For this Fifth Sunday of Easter this year, the Church provides for us a selection from the Gospels that takes us back to the night before Jesus died. These passages that are presented to us are from the fourteenth chapter of John’s Gospel, a section known as the Last Discourse. Jesus would have been speaking in a way that would have bewildered the disciples; they would most likely have been perplexed and confused, as we hear from Thomas’s question. Little did the disciples know that in a matter of hours their lives were “going to fall in” as one commentator puts it. They would find themselves turned upside down in chaos and uncertainty.
The Scriptures are timeless. We must never forget that the word of God is as apropos for us today as it was in the days when it was first heard/lived. Most of us can relate to the unfolding drama recorded for us by John. A few months ago (it is somewhat mystifying to say “months” now), we were living our lives but how quickly those lives were upended, not as quick for the disciples perhaps, but still quick for us, in about a week’s time. At times like these, it is easy to fall into the trap that Philip does in the Gospel when he says to Jesus “show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” We might be tempted to say “just manifest your power or glory in some undeniable way, Lord, and we will believe.” We do not need to ask God to reveal Himself in such ways since He is always present; it is up to us to recognize Him.
In these months, I have seen the face of God in the many, many parishioners who contacted the parish office early in the shutdown to let us know that they were prepared to help in any way those who were vulnerable and could not get out for food, supplies, or medicine. I have seen the face of the God in those who have generously and sacrificially continued to send in financial support to the parish. I have seen the face of God in those who continue to manifest small and large acts of kindness, compassion, and selflessness in these uncertain and sometimes frustrating times. I have seen the face of God in these days because God is always present, hiding in plain sight, wanting and waiting to be seen by us. I hope that you too have been able to see the face of God in these uncertain times.
Being able to see God present around us is vital to our moving forward because moving forward now involves a degree of uncertainty and maybe some apprehension or fear for some, just as it did for Thomas in the Gospel. As we look forward to the days ahead, with a desire to return to some normalcy, if we are able to see God in our midst, then we can look forward in hope, even if the path and the details are unclear.
Some much of who and what we are has become uncertain: our routines, how we view the world, and how we understand this life. In the end, there is still one certainty and that is our loving God revealed to us in Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life. St. Paul teaches us that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever and so is His love, His mercy, and His presence among us. Find Him present in your life so that, together, we might move forward in faith and hope to a better tomorrow. God bless you and yours!
Father Christopher House is the Rector of the Cathedral and serves in various leadership roles within the diocesan curia, namely Chancellor and Vicar Judicial.