I would like you to think about the last time you made any attempt to get to know someone. It could be a new neighbor, a new person where you work or from school, someone you have met before but now have decided you would like to be friends with them or it could be reconnecting with someone from your childhood who has been out of your life for years.
What does it take to get to really get to know them? Up to this point all you know about them would be superficial and based on your judgment of what is an acceptable or unacceptable character trait. Those judgments we make about someone are obstacles to truly knowing a person. I am certain it takes more than time to truly know someone unless we are willing to set aside preconceived notions and encourage them to reveal their hopes, dreams and fears to us.
Have you been with me for so long a time and you still do not know me Philip? Think about the implications of that question for us. How long have we been baptized and going to church and professing each time we go to mass how much we believe in this one Lord and Savior. I am certain we studied about Jesus during our early formation in the faith and have a true understanding of him as the Son of God just as Philip did. Jesus is teaching us a lesson about knowing about him and truly knowing him.
Have I been with you all this time and you still do not know me is a haunting question. I am going to admit to you that for the first thirty five years of my faith journey I only knew about Jesus but I did not know Jesus. The revised standard translation of Genesis 4:1 says, “Now Adam knew Eve his wife and she conceived and bore Cain.” Think of that question to Philip in light of this passage.
The biblical use of the word “know” has a much deeper meaning for us than an intellectual knowing of anything. The physical intimacy of Adam and Eve is described as knowing each other. Dis I know Jesus enough that I could recognize his touch, or his voice, or his smell, or understand his desires before he ever had to express them? Have you been with me all this time and still do not know me? We are invited to have spiritual and physical intimacy with Jesus in order to know his desires, his love, his touch, his voice, his plans and his tears.
The fact Philip did not know Jesus in that way shows us how easy it is for us to fall into patterns of practicing our faith and believing we are disciples when we are not. The fact Philip was still looking to experience God the Father shows us how easy it is for us to miss the reality of why Jesus lived and died.
This dialogue with Philip and Thomas should make us question our own friendship with Jesus. Is it a relationship that has barriers such as teacher and pupil or employee and employer? Is it a relationship of respect, honor and awe because of their position and prominence such as that between Bishop and member of the church? Jesus invites us into his heart not into his classroom or office.
Jesus’ desire is for us to following him not because of fear, or respect, or awe but because he desires to touch us as he did the sinners, the lepers and the broken hearted to break down the barriers so his love for us can penetrate our very core. It is then that we can know him as intimately as Adam knew Eve. It is then that this intimacy brings about new life in us just a Cain came to life because Adam knew Eve.
It is then that the love of God begins to be poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit and begins its work at transforming us into Holy men and women of God.
This is not a week for words it is a week we are invited to allow Jesus to love us into becoming fully alive. Think of it as a wedding night when we are fully intimate with the one we love.
As disciples we are not invited to be followers who are in awe of the master but instead we are invited to be loved into wholeness that changes who Jesus is for us. When we allow him to enfold us in his arms and allow him to love us we are changed from faithful Christians into believers who know the way and the truth and the life.