From the Gospel according to John:
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me?”
(From the Daily Office Lectionary – John 14:8-9a (NRSV) – April 28, 2014.)
I think Jesus is being a little rough on Philip. Granted, Jesus has done everything possible during his ministry to make the Father known, to be transparent to those around him, to reveal as much of himself as he can. Still, it is possible to be with someone for years and still not know them.
True story from my own life . . . My parents married in 1940. In 1943, my only brother was born. I followed nine years later. Throughout our childhoods, much of which we spent with our parternal grandparents, it was generally believed in the family that my brother was the favored grandchild and, though there were two grandchildren born to my father’s only sibling between us, that I was the next favored.
My father died accidentally in 1958. At the time, my brother was living with my grandparents while attending a private high school in my parents’ hometown. After our father’s death, I began spending every summer with our grandparents. My brother and I spent a lot of time with them!
My grandfather died in 1977; my grandmother, in 1981. It was at her death that we learned that, because my grandfather had disapproved of my parents’ marriage in 1940, he and my grandmother had disinherited his son (my father), his daughter-in-law (my mother), and his grandchildren — the allegedly “favored grandchildren” — my brother and me.
It is possible to be with someone for years and still not know them. I loved my grandfather (his picture illustrates this reflection), but I didn’t know him.
So I understand Philip. And I think Jesus is being a little rough on him.
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Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.