On Monday we'll celebrate the feast of Saint Matthias; the selected scripture readings will celebrate his status as an apostle. Because of the feast, we will not hear Jesus final remarks of John 16. Then, on Tuesday we'll plunge into the "Priestly Prayer of Jesus," John 17. So today's Gospel is the last instruction of John's gospel, a teaching about our relationship to the "Father" of Jesus.
He promises that he will tell us clearly about the Father when the hour comes. The hour will be the moment of his crucifixion. We have been hearing about the hour ever since John 2 when Jesus said to his mother, "What is that to me? My hour has not yet come!" Several times he was confronted with hostility and arrest but his enemies could not lay a hand on him because his hour had not yet come. Finally, after his solemn arrival in Jerusalem, we hear, "the hour has come."
What are we about to learn when he no longer speaks in figures? Though he says here, "I will tell you clearly about the Father," the revelation will go beyond words. He will show us, in answer to Philip's prayer, "Show us the Father."
That showing is, of course, the crucifixion, fulfilling his thrice-repeated prophecy of being lifted up. By the cross Jesus shows us the Father's love brilliantly, more clearly than we have dared to ask or imagine.
I began to understand this several years ago, after reading a statement by Pope John Paul II. The document was addressed to religious but I can't remember the name. He reminded friars, monks, nuns, sisters and brothers that the Lord was laid in a manger so the world might see more clearly the brilliant grace of God. We might be distracted from his divine presence by glittering diamonds, emeralds and rubies. In the straw of extreme poverty he shines like stars on a moonless night.
Our Savior shows us the Father most clearly from the cross, which is why we always have a crucifix over the altar. Gazing upon that terrible scene we see astonishing beauty. When Thomas saw the wounds of Jesus he was overwhelmed and cried, "My Lord and my God." It was not a cry of horror but of faith. Is it any wonder that the world does not understand? Our vision is blessed with belief and we see what others cannot see; we can see even the Father.
Finally, we can ask anything in his name and he will give it to us. Jesus opens to those who love him the intimacy he enjoys with the Father -- the Trinitarian intimacy of God the Father and God the Son. His response to the question of the Baptist's disciples, "Where do you live?" was "Come and see." They might have been asking in what house or village he lived, or what synagogue he attended. Perhaps they actually went and stayed with him in Mary's house for a few days, a place of extraordinary grace. But, with the close of chapter 16. we realize he invites us to live with him in the bosom of the Father. To all the world that place looks like Calvary, it is bliss to us.