Monday, 5/3/2021, Feast of Saints. Philip and James, the Apostles
Faith in the Gospel Begets Salvation
First Reading Commentary: 1 Corinthians 15:1-8
In today’s first reading, St. Paul told the Corinthians and he is telling us to have faith in the Gospel because it is through our faith in the Gospel that we are saved.
At the time that Paul gave this message to the Corinthians, there were those among them who had doubt. Indeed, there are those among us today who have doubt. There are certain mysteries which some people do not accept or believe in because there is no tangible proof.
Paul is telling us that if we do not put total and absolute faith in the Gospel—all of the Gospel, that there is a problem with our faith. We believe in vain because our faith is incomplete. We cannot believe in Jesus and the Trinity part of the way. We have to have faith in Jesus and the Trinity all of the way. That means that we have to accept everything about Jesus and the Trinity.
Because the Trinity is three persons in one God, if Jesus said it and/or did it; God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit said it and God did it. Paul’s message is that we should not pick and choose what we want to accept and reject the rest. When we do that, our faith is not only incomplete; it is flawed.
One of the mysteries that the Corinthians struggled with was the Resurrection of Christ. The people of Corinth did not believe in resurrection and therefore had a tough time believing that Christ had risen from the dead. So, Paul continued his letter by presenting evidence that was designed to be good enough for the Corinthians and should be good enough for us.
Paul pointed out that Christ died for our sins, was buried and was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, Isaiah 53:4-12 and Hosea 6:1-2. The point is that anyone who does not accept the Resurrection of Christ; does not accept these Scriptures because Christ came and fulfilled them doing exactly what they prophesized.
There is a lesson here for all of us which, is given to us over and over again. God keeps His promises and always does what He says He is going to do! All throughout the Old Testament beginning in Genesis, the Father promised that He would send the Son to save the world. In the person of Jesus Christ, the Father kept that promise.
Paul continued to provide evidence by pointing out that Jesus appeared, to many people after His Resurrection. Paul concludes this part of his letter by saying, “Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me.”
This is a testimony to the event in Acts 9:3-6 that led to Paul’s own personal conversion. Paul was saying that if he could become a believer when he was a devout persecutor, then the Corinthians, who were believers, could increase their faith and accept the Resurrection. In fact, if we consider the whole story surrounding Paul’s conversion, it should give all of us good reason to believe.
Paul says that he was born abnormally but he is not talking about anything physical. Anyone who knows the story of Paul may think that he is making reference to the fact that he was a Greek, a Roman citizen, a devout Jew and a Pharisee. That is some combination which afforded Paul many privileges but that is another subject.
Paul was referring to how Jesus came to him and struck him down from his horse and blinded him physically. Paul was blinded because he was blind to the truth of Jesus being God the Son in spite of his devout faith. Paul was also referring to the fact that he was a persecutor who was involved in the death of Stephen, the first martyr of the Church. In spite of this, he became a believer and an Apostle who was willing to give his own life for Christ and the Church.
We are all born abnormally because we are born in sin. As Paul went through a transformation in his conversion, we go through a transformation in Baptism and if we take Paul’s message of having total and absolute faith in the Gospel; we will be saved.
A Promise from Jesus
Gospel Commentary: John 14:6-14
Jesus said to Thomas, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” In this statement, Jesus declares His divine identity, but He also declares that there is more than one person in one God testifying to Father and Son. Therefore, if we do not follow Jesus, we cannot reach the Father. The word of Jesus—the Gospel is the Truth and Jesus is the way to eternal life in heaven where we will be with the Father.
Then Jesus said, “If you know me, then you will also know my Father…you do know him and have seen him.” Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father.
We are still at the Last Supper when this happens. Jesus had told the disciples several times and in different ways that He and the Father are one. So why did Philip ask Jesus to show the Father? Philip did not understand. He had to have it broken down in simpler terms. He needed something tangible that he could see and touch.
Philip was no different from the rest of us. I have addressed this subject many times before because it keeps coming up. It is our human nature to need tangible evidence in order to believe something. But God wants us to consider the many works that have been done, especially the works done by the Son and then use the faith He gave us.
With this in mind, you can imagine what Jesus said, “I have been with you for a long time and you still do not know me…Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?”
In Philip’s defense, none of us can understand the mystery of the Trinity and you have to understand that mystery in order to totally come to terms with what Jesus meant. How can a person be in another person and vice versa? That is a mystery beyond human comprehension. That is why God gave us faith so that we can just believe.
Jesus understood that this is why Philip had a problem so He said, “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.” The message for Philip was, just believe but if you are having a hard time believing because of the mystery, believe because of what you have seen Me do. Just believe is the message for us as well but if we struggle, then we should believe because the works of Jesus have been witnessed and testified to too many times for them not to be true.
Then Jesus gave the disciples a very good reason why they should believe. Jesus said, “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.” Jesus is telling the disciples that they too will work miracles. But take a moment to meditate on what comes next. Jesus said, “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.”
Jesus said a lot here and it is worth breaking down. He told the disciples to ask in His name. We should always ask in Jesus’ name when we pray. Think about it. There are three persons in the one God who we believe in. Therefore, as I always say, when we pray to God, we pray to the Trinity. We should ask the Father to send the Spirit to work within us, or whoever it is that we are praying for, in the name of the Son.
Jesus makes the promise that He will do what we ask. Sometimes, we have the very best of intentions when we make a promise, but life seems to get in the way and we do not always keep our promises. Well, God never breaks a promise.
Jesus said, “…so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” God is in His glory when He does things for us. For those of us who are parents, think about how wonderful we feel and how much joy there is inside of us when we do something for our children which is out of pure love for them. Think about how good we feel when someone shows appreciation for something that we have done for them. So, when we do as Jesus tells us here, the Father is in His glory because we are obeying His Son.
Consider once again what Jesus said, “If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.” Pray to Jesus in the name of Jesus. Think about that. There is the Trinity again.
The promise that Jesus makes here works for me but let’s don’t get crazy. We have to watch out for that word, “anything.” Don’t ask to hit the lotto because there is a real good chance that you will be disappointed.
God wants us to join Him in His Kingdom of Heaven. So, what He wants to give us first and foremost is everything we need to get there. We should pray for what we need, not just what we want. We should pray for the things which are consistent with His Will like His mercy and forgiveness. That is what Jesus promises.
The other blessings which come to us are like the things parents do for their children or lovers do for each other for no reason except for love. The beauty is that Jesus promises those things too.
In “33 Days to Morning Glory, Day 12, St. Maximillian Kolbe gives a formula to becoming a saint. It is: W + w = S. “W” is God’s Will, “w” is your will and S is Sanctity. God wants all of His children to be saints. Do you want to be a saint?