We can know the Father by coming to know the Son.

Wednesday, 7/17/13

Today’s readings turn our thoughts toward knowing God. Old paintings pictured heaven by showing God as a benign old man enthroned above, but even our little children know that God the Father had no human body. More than any other image, the burning bush that Moses approached in the first reading gives something like a true picture of God. While wrapped in raging flames the bush still plays host to its greenery and its flowering buds. In that way it echoes God’s ability to hold the fiery stars in one hand while cradling a child in the other.

Jesus, in the Gospel, said that he alone could make the Father known to us. That reminds me of a story about St. Justin before his conversion. As an accomplished scholar of Plato and Aristotle, he had come to believe in the one God. Then, walking on the beach one day around the year 100 A.D. he fell in with an old Christian. The old man teased him by saying, “By your philosopher’s robes I can see you know all about the one true God; but you do not actually know him, do you?

After Justin admitted that he had no actual contact with God, the old man introduced him to Christ and Christianity. Then, as a baptized Christian Justin came on a life of such contentment, that he opened a school in Rome for leading people to God through his Son.

Jesus said, “No one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”  That leaves us asking, “How might the Son reveal the Father to us? Does he somehow reveal the Father to us in the depth of our souls?"

The answer seems to be that we know the Father by knowing the Son. That comes across in Chapter 14 of John’s Gospel. When Philip said, “Show us the Father, and that will be enough for us;” Jesus answered, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” My enclosing his divinity in a human form that our puny minds could grasp, Jesus was showing us as much of the Father as we could comprehend.  

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