Childlike St. Philip

Philip & James

Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us. (John 14:8)

St. Philip said this to Lord Jesus on Holy Thursday night. I think we can see the ‘inner child’ in Philip here.

At some point, maybe a age four, or five, or six, seven, or eight, the child begins to grasp that life involves strife. To reach satisfaction, we must strive through sometimes-difficult adversities.

At eight or nine, I myself remember having young reflections like: “Okay, winning a basketball game can be really satisfying. But sometimes the opposing team actually has some tough players. So you have to fight. You have to play defense, and box out for rebounds, and get yourself good and tired, out-of-breath from running up and down the court, and you have to dive for loose balls, which hurts. But then you can win and feel good.”

Georgetown Marquette BasketballThe child begins to grasp this reality of striving to achieve satisfaction. Then that childlike trust–namely, that hard work earns a reward–becomes part of the inner make-up of an honest person. It becomes the foundation of our sense of justice. Let me do right, diligently—because doing right diligently merits a reward.

So here’s Philip, a diligent seeker after righteousness. An eager student of the great Nazarene rabbi. And we know all too well how demanding this rabbi’s doctrine is. Philip, with his inner-child driving his sense of justice, blurts out “Okay, Master, now for our reward!”

I think we can try to relate. Philip’s eager innocence here moves me, at least.

What about the Lord’s response? “Philip, how can you say ‘show us the Father?’ Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? …You will do greater works even then those which I do.”

Maybe the Lord tricks us into something by planting the child-like zeal for honest satisfaction within us. He tricks us into learning the secret that the greatest reward for being a Christian is being a Christian. The greatest reward for obeying Christ is sharing in the Christ-ness of Christ.

Winning basketball games certainly was fun. But the euphoria would fade. The just reward of those justified with the justice of Christ, however, does not fade. Because the just reward is Christ Himself.

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