Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle A

Fifth Sunday of Easter

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John 14: 1-12

"To have seen me is to have seen the Father"

The scene is the Upper Room, the occasion is the Last Supper. Jesus has washed the feet of his disciples, a final and striking lesson to them. He has spoken of being betrayed by one of them, and of being with them only a little longer. The atmosphere is tense, the disciples filled with anxiety, and Jesus urges them: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in me” It is an invitation to total faith in the Father and in Jesus. He is going to his Father and will return, he says, “to take you to myself, so that you may be with me where I am” – in the glorious, loving, eternal presence of God.

But what is God like, that we should wish to abide eternally in his presence? Philip’s request is also ours: “show us the Father, then we shall be satisfied”, to which Jesus replies: “To have seen me is to have seen the Father”. What a fascinating statement! In the human life of Jesus, God is revealed. In Jesus we are given a true picture of God, a “self-portrait by God” as one author has put it. It is a statement that compels us to reflect afresh on the life and message and ministry of Jesus, to examine more closely what it tells us about God.

We might reflect, for example, on such features of Jesus’ ministry as his emphasis on service rather than lordship, his empathy with the poor, the downtrodden, the weak and the wounded, his association with tax-collectors and sinners and all manner of outcasts and misfits, his own vulnerability, and his acceptance of suffering and death. Here is an inviting picture of a loving, caring, compassionate, forgiving and self-giving God. And in Jesus we can not only see the Father, but come to him, know him, and be one with him, for Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.