Homily 5th Sunday of Easter 7th May 2023
The Gospel passage we have just listened to is one of the most inspiring in all of scripture.
For the other Gospel writers in many places it seems to be their intention to present Christ as very much a human being, walking and talking and eating and sleeping and praying just as does anyone else. And of course that is true. But John seems to have been particularly struck by the fact that it was only part of the truth. John emphasised the majesty, the transcendence of the Christ-God, and he tries to call out of his readers a response that at least begins to proportionate that majesty.
He tells us that we are so much more than we could ever imagine ourselves to be. He invests every smallest detail of our human lives with an importance, a dignity that is truly infinite in its scope.
Thomas and Philip, with the others, must have been pretty stunned, and upset by the news that Christ was about to leave them. So, one of them sort of stammers out “Well, what about us? What are we supposed to do now?” And Christ answers in effect, “You know very well what you are supposed to do. You have been watching me for three years. Do what I have done.”
And then he adds a few lines later, “I assure you, if you have faith in me, you will be able to do the things I have done, and far greater things.”
Just reflect on that line for a moment. Every life, motivated by faith, no matter how humbly, even fruitlessly spent in the eyes of the world, is a gift offered to God, a sacrifice which draws all of humankind to salvation. In Christ’s design, the contribution to the salvation of the world that can be made by the keenest mind, the most dedicated activist, the most eloquent prophet, is really no greater, no more valuable, than that which can be made by the simplest, the least important, the least influential among us.
So, there are no meaningless lives, there are no meaningless acts. There are only people who refuse to recognise the meaning God has given to them. We cannot place our faith in the goodness of God, the goodness of his world, the creative power of his world, somewhere off in an indefinable future. That faith must be placed in the world in which he has placed us, in that word spoken to our circumstances, no matter how they may seem to be. In his response to Philip’s request to see that Father, Christ urges him to look beneath the surface of whatever, whoever is right in front of him. That is where the Father, in all of his goodness and power has chosen to be.