A Cycle – 6th Sunday of Easter 20
Jn. 14: 15 – 21
Last week we heard of seven men filled with the Holy Spirit who were selected to aid the disciples serve those early Christians, Philip was one of those men. We do not have any indication who the Philip in today’s gospel is. Is it Philip the deacon or is it Philip the disciple? It really does not matter because the scriptures are God’s revelation of himself and his plan for us. Therefor the message is in the story not in the individuals in the story. Yet they are part of a message showing us what we need for us to grow into discipleship. In this gospel story we see how fervent believers can be zealous in ministry and yet not have what is necessary to move seekers into believers.
We know Philip the Deacon was a man filled with the Holy Spirit but beyond that we do not know much. However, one filled with the Spirit has been given wisdom, discernment, understanding and is gifted to reveal Christ to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. We know Philip the disciple was a follower of Christ from the beginning of his ministry. Philip boldly proclaimed Jesus was the messiah to Nathaniel and invited Nathaniel to come and see. We know Philip the disciple was in that upper room at Pentecost and received the Holy Spirit. Therefore, he like Philip the deacon was gifted with wisdom, understanding, discernment and knew he could tap into the power of God and witness healings.
They both would have understood the Spirit’s presence was promised by God as a means of changing our human hearts and desires. Both Philips, would have been filled with the Spirit so why did Peter and John have to complete the conversion of those Samaritans who embraced Jesus as Lord?
Yet the human side of Philip the disciple causes doubt just as it does in us. Just last week we hear Philip the Disciple wanting some proof, something tangible beyond words and promises. He wants to see the Father. He wants to know God is real. We hear that question often in our spiritual journey. We hear it from others and sometimes it is lodged in our own hearts. We believe in something we have not seen. We can experience the presence of God as we pray, as we meditate, as we worship. We believe in the presence of God in the sacraments and yet as we receive them, we often do not feel the presence of God. We long for something to touch our hearts. I
Do you remember the response of Jesus to Philip’s question to see the Father? It was simple and direct; “…if we see Jesus, we see the Father.” That statement should move us to seek to encounter Christ. Not just in the Sacrament of the Eucharist but in the revelation of the Word not in study but by revelation of the Holy Spirit revealing Jesus to us. Jesus in the upper room the night before He died said the “…Spirit will teach you all things and bring to remembrance all that he said…” (Jn. 14:26). We need to seek Jesus in the scriptures, and we need to pay attention to the passages given to us each week during the Liturgy of the Word.
Each one of the disciples and deacons learned the lesson that just proclaiming Jesus was not enough. Just serving Jesus was not enough for even Jesus said to those who bragged about serving in his name “…out of my sight I do not know you” (Lk. 13:27). What we need to learn is how to go beyond ourselves by tapping into the power of God given to us by the Holy Spirit.
What we do is exactly what Philip was doing in the gospel story. He was filled with the Spirit and he was touching hearts. Miracles were being performed, lives were being changed, people were energized but something was missing. Perhaps what was missing is the one thing we need to face the question of where God is when we need him. We can be full of joy, feeling as if we have finally crossed the line of practicing our faith to living our faith. Yet, we can lose that zeal over time. Then we go through the motions and our relationship with God suffers. What do we need to keep the flame of faith burning in our hearts? We need to know Christ and the only way to know Christ is by revelation of the Spirit.
That is what Peter and John came to understand after they received the Spirit. You would have thought Philip, whoever he was, would have realized that he needed to baptize beyond water, but in Spirit and Fire.
Do we understand like the Samaritans that without the Spirit active in us we are missing out in experiencing the love of God being poured into our hearts? The Holy Spirit is the final piece in God’s plan to restore our nature as sons and daughters, destined to know the love of the Father, to see and feel his arms surround us as they did the Prodigal son.
It really does not matter what Philip was ministering in Samaria because the story is recorded for us to see ourselves in the story. Are we the people receiving the word and embracing it but still missing out on feeling the love of God changing our hearts? Are we Philip, serving with all our strength, energy and learning but still not bringing people hungry to know God to a point where they feel his presence versus understand his desires? Are we willing to allow others to complete the work we started by moving faith from an intellectual knowledge to an experience of the senses as Peter and John did that day?
The answer to those questions will lead you to another question. Have you received the Spirit when hands were laid on you? Pentecost is coming, pray and expect that power from on high to flood you; read the account of Jesus in the upper room as he speaks of the Spirit in John’s gospel begin with Chapter 14 and read through Chapter 17. Pay attention to the words and instead of hearing them spoken to the disciples, hear them spoken to you. Meditate on them from now to Pentecost and then ask for the Spirit to come into your heart. Invite the Spirit in and you will be changed and all you seek will be found.