Jesus’ gaze pierces hearts and he saw that his disciples’ hearts were troubled and so He is tender with them. He knew how weak they are and it will show during his trial that was coming. At this moment in time, Jesus tries to link their faith in God to their faith in him. They are not clear as to Jesus’ relationship to the Father. For them He is a man, he is the Messiah. They could not know on their own they need help. And so, he encourages them to be strong by promising them a place in heaven.
It was too much for them to comprehend this going away somewhere and coming back to get them, the way where he is going. So, Thomas wants Jesus to clarify for him where He is going and where is the way.
We can’t blame the disciples. The way they see Jesus is the same way the Pharisees and the scribes see Him. The one side of His nature. We ourselves have not overcome completely the disciples’ one-sided understanding of Jesus. The way is a directional orientation and not a person but Jesus answers them that He is the Way. That must have been confusing for them.
John, the Evangelist is telling us here that truth is the divine activity of the Father manifested in Jesus Christ. It is a revelation that the disciples will only understand later. If they really understood the man Jesus, by looking at his person words and action, they would see that the Father would not act differently nor the Son as to what the father is doing.
As their faith in God is still unrelated to faith in Jesus, Philip asks Jesus to show them the Father and it will be enough for them. Phillip is asking for a theopany, that God the father will show himself to them. And so Jesus once more attempts to make Phillip and the rest understand that He Jesus is doing the will of the Father, the healing, the preaching of the good news to the poor, the raising of the dead, the forgiveness of sin – these are the father’s work. Jesus would not do less than this. He only does what the Father is doing. Jesus’ works is the Father’s. So to see Jesus is to see the Father.
The whole purpose of Jesus’ life is to reveal the loving father to them through His loving kindness and forgiveness for all. The will of the Father is to offer salvation for the whole of humankind. We make things too complicated when the question is asked: What is the will of God; and we parenthetically add “for me.” Holiness and spirituality is primarily to include ourselves into humanity which the God the Father longed to save, to share His glory and make children of us.
We have turned holiness into individual piety and devotion and if we have time spending our time to be holy then we can perhaps take care of others. We must always have in mind what is the will of the Father for all; so that our piety, spirituality or our efforts to holiness should flow from this will of God which we gladly make our own.
In short holiness is not possible without joining the will of God of loving everyone in the world and the people closest to us. Otherwise our holiness becomes sentimental pieties, fervors like dry grass on fire but dies soon enough. Holiness, just like Jesus’, is doing the work of the Father, that is, loving and saving the world. All devotions and pious practices should be offered for the world. The Father know what we need. We become holy by loving the world as the Father did. He so loved the world! Scriptures says.
And it is not an intermittent love of the world — like every now and then. The Christian life is spent on this work of the Father. We would be lying if we deny that many a time in the beginning and fervor of our spiritual we prayed that God would show himself to us or something like that. Let us heed what Jesus said to Philip. Have I been with you for so long at time and still you do not know me, Philip. Our relationship with Jesus had been going on for a long time and we still do not understand Jesus. We want to see God and we refuse to see the works of Jesus. We have seen God but we did not recognize Him.
It is in those who do the works of God, those who forgave no matter how big the offense they have received, those who died saving others in death threatening situations, the martyrs, those who died for peace, the protectors of the Amazon killed by logging magnates, the peace makers among warring factions who were killed because they dare interfere with their wars, those who do good regardless of religion race and culture and other works which we call social action and therefore not our concerns especially those among us who are in prayer and contemplation. I wonder if our private spiritual activities could stand as works of God at the end. I wonder why we are still looking for visions of God.
St. Paul did encounter God in a vision and he had ecstasies in the desert but after these he did not ask for it and he spent his whole life doing the works of God. I think it would be better to look around and see if we could see God at work. The pious Christians who always prayed for the conversion of Russia did not publicly showed their joy and thanksgiving to God when two political figures dismantled communism. How many see the works of God in Ghandi, how many see the works of God in Martin Luther King, and so on. It is not only in our ideal person in whom we can see the works of God like a holy person but we can see the work of God even in the sinner. For if they do any good deed it surely comes from God. All good comes from God. If we Christians and monks cannot see the good works as coming from God then we will never see God in this life . What a pity.