VERBUM DOMINI

Father of Peace

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Anxiety is unbecoming of a Christian. It is a bit scandalous to see an adopted child of God worried and hurried, nail-biting and waiting for the other shoe to drop. The redeemed heart should be peaceful. The gift of the Spirit should set the mind at ease. It is unsettling to encounter an apprehensive and fretful believer. Perhaps they imagine wrath piled at the gates, an irritable God trailing us, ready to vent, saying to himself, “just give me a reason.” Perhaps they see themselves on the edge, ready to be dropped from his charity at the slightest fault. It is almost as if they don’t know who they are. They certainly don’t know their Father.

In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus tries to prepare his disciples for the passion: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.” Jesus’ suffering and death will be the greatest trial for them. Anxiety and doubt will be barking at the door. Despair will show its teeth. But Jesus counsels peace, specifically the peace of faith. He acknowledges every impending difficulty, but urges them to believe that in the end all things will turn out well: “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places...I will come back again and take you to myself.”

Philip interjects the perfect request: “Show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” If he could but see the Father, only look upon him, he knows his heart would never be moved. He feels a mere glimpse of the Father would drive back every anxiety and earthly concern, and he is right. But Jesus has already told him, “from now on you do know him and have seen him.” That “from now on” deserves special attention. Jesus himself is the vision of the Father (Jn 1:18), and that vision is reaching its culmination. “From now on,” meaning, with the completion of the passion, the Father, who is love, will be fully revealed. Looking upon the Cross with faith, seeing the Son who laid down his life for us, we come to know Love (1Jn 3:16), we come to know the Father, and that is enough for us.

Philip’s instinct is entirely correct. Seeing the Father would satisfy the heart and dismiss every anxiety. The thing is, we do see him. We see him in the “no greater love” of the Cross. We can always gaze upon a crucifix and find the Father gazing back at us. There is nothing now to separate us from his love (Rom 8:35-39). Perhaps that is what is most troubling about a troubled believer. It’s as if they haven’t seen the Father yet.