Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles

Lectionary: 561

Jesus said to Thomas, “I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you know me, then you will also know my Father.
From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

High school and college classmates share a special camaraderie as they experience important formational years together. If they have shared all those years together, as we did in the seminary, their affection and knowledge of one another is especially intense. They have been family to each other, shaping and molding one another as they worked, played, argued, fought and reconciled.  

Despite all that, I never really knew my friend until I met his family. Seeing him in his own milieu with his own kin -- bonded by their very genes, looking, emoting, thinking and acting alike -- opened my eyes to facets of his personality I had only wondered about. Mannerisms, attitudes and habits that had bugged me, appearing as typical of his family, made perfect sense.

If you want to know God you must know the Son of God. Not knowing Jesus, you cannot possibly know his Father. As he said, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” Likewise, you cannot know Jesus if you do not know his Father. Whatever you may know about Mary’s son, born in Bethlehem and died in Jerusalem, if you ignore his divine paternity you know nothing.

He is “the way and the truth and the life.” That way that leads to God also leads us back into ourselves, for we are made in the image and likeness of God. To know myself I invite the knowledge of God.

There is a scientific language of knowledge that speaks of facts and data. It wants to amass knowledge and then draw up hypotheses and theories about what it knows.

Probably, at some point in our foolish youth, we discussed theories about our friends. I shudder at the memory today. Whatever I thought I knew, I realize I knew nothing; or at least that kind of knowledge is nothing.

Knowing a person is not like knowing a fact; they are so different there should be different words. I know my friend in that I would recognize him anywhere on the face of the earth; even if he appeared in disguise I would discover him. I know my friend because there are mysterious “layers” or “levels” of his being that neither he nor I can explain but we apprehend them and honor them.

I know him because he knows and recognizes me. If we were both disguised we would discover each other. A word, a gesture, a facial expression, perhaps even an odor might give us away.

That knowledge is infinitely more important than any facts we might amass. That knowledge is open to facts, it might be intensely curious about the other’s facts, but it transcends all facts because it is love.

Jesus insists that he is the way to the Father. He is also the way to our own deeper selves, and the way to communion with one another. His is the road that leads in all directions simultaneously! We have only to take his hand.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.