Acts 13:44-52; Ps 98:1-4; Jn 14:7-14
“In the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice.”
The justice of God is not the fruit of nation building. The God of Justice must reveal his justice; otherwise nations are blind to the justice of God. Throughout history, nations have struggled to assert their identity and to defend their integrity. Try though they might the individual nation-states have not always revealed the justice of God. Nation building is most often about self-defense and not about the justice of God. Until all the nations sing a new song and find joy in the salvation of God, there will be very little justice on earth and almost no peace on earth. Still, the preachers Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas are confronted with jealousy and violent abuse. We, too, must deal with contradiction and ridicule when we witness to the truth of the Gospel. Still, the Lord Jesus asks us: “Do you not know that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” Still, we must shake the dust from our feet, and still we are filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.
All too often preaching can become mere entertainment, and the new priest in town becomes the focus of attention. This makes ministry into some kind of a popularity contest. Such less than virtuous human behavior is evident even in apostolic times. When nearly the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord from the mouths of Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas the leaders were filled with jealousy and used violence to contradict these new preachers in town. However, this public ridicule only made the apostolic preachers even bolder. This lack of communal hospitality and openness to the word of the Lord gave the Gospel preachers an opening to proclaim the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in the Lord Jesus, who came to be a light to the Gentiles and an instrument of salvation even to these foreigners. This word of the Lord delighted the hearts of their Gentile crowds, but the same word devastated the hearts of the Jewish crowds. However, the power of the Jewish minority was so influential that they were able to incite the women of prominence and the leading men of the city to resist and reject this New Revelation. Again, and again the disciples of Christ were not to despair; they were simply to shake the dust from their feet in protest, and find their hearts filled with joy and the Holy Spirit as they continued the apostolic mission. Is this the kind of confidence that motives us in rejection? Do we know that as the Father is in the Son so too we are united with the Lord God?
The Apostle Philip was not sure that the meager supply of bread and fish would satisfy the hunger of the crowds before the miracle of the loaves. In today’s gospel, Saint Philip is not sure that seeing the Lord Jesus throughout his ministry was enough to satisfy his spiritual hunger or the hunger of the apostles. Those who had been with him through so much of his teaching and miracles still could not see with eyes of faith. So Saint Philip made this request, “show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” The Lord Jesus knew that the Apostle Philip, the other apostles, and even us, the contemporary believers, as well just don’t get the message: “Do you not know that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” Can we not see that Christ’s acts of compassion reveal the heart of the Father who continues to work in history to reveal his saving love and his loving kindness? The Lord Jesus exhorts us that only if we believe in this unity between the Father and the Son are we able to accept our union with him. Our union with Christ will enable us to do far greater things than the Lord Jesus because we will be doing his will, which is the Father’s will, and we will be doing the divine will in the Power of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, as Saint Ireneus preached, the Almighty Father reaches out to save through his two Hands, the Son and the Spirit. Saint Philip and all of us, apostles, believe in the Christ and in the Spirit who continue to work in and through the Eucharist to glorify the Father in the Son. Such an apostolic witness continues day and night, unto the ages of ages.