We have a beautiful mural at our Cathedral in Reno. At the top of that mural stands the Lamb of God. In Aramaic, the word for “a word” and the word for a “lamb” are both “Omer.” The writer of St. John’s Gospel spoke Aramaic and knew the two words are the same. From the Lamb/Word of God comes a glow that enlightens the entire mural, our world. Below the Lamb/Word are the rivers of life.
To the right of the Lamb/Word of God a young couple kneels, much like the people in our congregation. To the left stands Malachi, predictor of Jesus coming into our world. Below sits the altar through which Jesus enters us, through the Eucharist. The Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter Gospel reads, “Philip asked Jesus, “Master, show us the Father. That will be enough for us.” Jesus replied, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?”
Philip is not the first person to ask such a question. Moses beat him to it, Exodus 33:18-23 relates the incident:
Moses said, “Please let me see your importance!” The PERSONAL NAME answered: I will make my goodness pass before you, and proclaim my name, “PERSONAL NAME,” before you; I who show favor to whom I will, I who grant mercy to whom I will… Here, is a place near me where you will station yourself on the rock. When my importance passes, I will set you in the cleft of the rock and will cover you with my hand until I pass by. I will remove my hand, so that you may see my back.”
Jesus continues, “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.”
Of these works, Exodus goes on to relate, “The PERSONAL NAME passed before him proclaiming: The PERSONAL NAME, the PERSONAL NAME, a Mighty Judge merciful and kind, slow to anger and abounding in kindness and faith, continuing his love for a thousand generations, and forgiving, rebellion, transgression and failure; and pardoning.
As we read the Gospels, notice that Jesus quotes Scripture directly to nobody except the Great Accuser, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees. He never quotes Scripture to the crowd and he never quotes it to those who he heals, and he does heal, often. St. Mark, the smallest Gospel, relates fourteen healing episodes. In our mural, those are rivers of living, flowing water. They are rivers of water that cleanse, not condemn. Like Moses, we station ourselves upon the rock nearest God, and the rock is Christ.
At our Cathedral, we see the intertwining flames as they shoot from the candles. One candle represents the Trinity, Father, Son, and Dedicated Spirit. Another represents God, Holy Mother Church, and us, the congregation. We are all one.
One of the puns of Hebrew is that the Hebrew word for Father is “Abba.” The One who is to come, is “Ha bah.” The Hebrew word for Love is “A Ha bah.” God is the One who comes into our hearts so we can pass him on to others. We welcome our neighbor into our hearts, warts and all, because Jesus did so with us, first.
In our Gospel, Jesus states, “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.” Those works are, being merciful and kind, being slow to anger, and abounding in kindness and faith. They also include continuing his love for a thousand generations, (healing others) forgiving, rebellion, transgression and failure; and pardoning. Continuing his love for a thousand generations includes doing as Jesus did, healing others and helping them to return to the intertwining flame, which is upon our altar.
Philip asks, “Show us the Father.” Jesus replies, “I show the Father, not with a drawing, but with what I do.” If we see the Father, we do even greater works than Jesus does. We show greater mercy, greater kindness, greater patience, greater kindness and faith, and greater healing. We do so, not because the people are deserving people, but because Jesus did it for us first, before we were deserving. Are we on our mark? Are we ready? Are we set? After the Eucharist, we are back to the great race of life, ready or not. The world is watching. They will see God or not see God by what we do.