Find the Light Within the Question

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter
May 6, 2023

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, our readings present us with two strikingly different forms of resistance to God’s Word.

In our first reading, we see that the community in Pisidian Antioch has responded positively to Paul’s inaugural preaching. He has returned, by invitation, for a second Sabbath to share the Good News. But the reaction is not so smooth this second time.

In a pattern very similar to what Jesus experienced when he preached in his home town synagogue, Paul meets initial approbation, cynicism, rejection and expulsion. And, like Jesus, he turns on his heel, leaving his rejectors tangled in their own faithless criticisms.

The resistance we see here is active. It is a choice not to believe.

On the following sabbath
almost the whole city
gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 
When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy
and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said. 
Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said,
“It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first,
but since you reject it
and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life,
we now turn to the Gentiles. 

Acts 13:44-46

Today’s Gospel shows us another kind of resistance to the full embrace of faith.

Philip said to Jesus, 
“Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” 
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time
and you still do not know me, Philip? 
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. 
How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? 

This is a passive resistance, one Philip didn’t even recognize in himself. What was it in him that made him impervious to the presence of God in Jesus? Was Philip dull, distracted, hyper-critical, unreflective?

I can’t speak for Philip, but I can tell you that when I miss a sacred point in my life, it is exectly for those reasons! When the moment of grace has passed me by, I do a swift re-take and realize that I had been caught in one or more of the following passive resistant behaviors:

  • too noisy
  • too opinionated
  • too sure of myself
  • too busy
  • too tired
  • too impatient
  • too scattered

If Philip was in the same boat, he did a good job getting out of it. He sailed on to be one of the great saints and teachers of the Church. Philip really heard Jesus’s answer to his oblivious question:

Jesus said:
The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. 
The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. 
Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me,
or else, believe because of the works themselves. 
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father. 
And whatever you ask in my name, I will do,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 
If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.”

John 14:10-14

May we not miss the point of Christ’s Presence in our lives. May we notice and lower our own resistances to hear the sacred answers right in front of us.

Poetry: After the Rain – Jared Carter

After the rain, it’s time to walk the field
again, near where the river bends. Each year
I come to look for what this place will yield—
lost things still rising here.
The farmer’s plow turns over, without fail,
a crop of arrowheads, but where or why
they fall is hard to say. They seem, like hail,
dropped from an empty sky,
Yet for an hour or two, after the rain
has washed away the dusty afterbirth
of their return, a few will show up plain
on the reopened earth.
Still, even these are hard to see—
at first they look like any other stone.
The trick to finding them is not to be
too sure about what’s known;
Conviction’s liable to say straight off
this one’s a leaf, or that one’s merely clay,
and miss the point: after the rain, soft
furrows show one way
Across the field, but what is hidden here
requires a different view—the glance of one
not looking straight ahead, who in the clear
light of the morning sun
Simply keeps wandering across the rows,
letting his own perspective change.
After the rain, perhaps, something will show,
glittering and strange.

Music: The Light Within – Peter Sterling

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