If You Know Me: A Homily by Deacon Jim Hyatt

Another Gospel with Thomas… I love it! I can relate so much to Thomas – his doubts, his blurting out questions… he is totally human and totally us. “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” He blurts out the question the rest of the disciples are probably too afraid to ask because they know they should know the answer. So, Thomas just asks away. But there is something in Jesus’s answer that I found interesting. Let’s take a look.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Ok, we have all heard this before and we know that in our heads. He goes on to say, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” Yup, we’ve heard that before and we believe that in our heads and in our hearts, the way to the Father is through Jesus Christ. The next sentence though caused me to pause because I have been thinking about this very thing over the last two weeks. Jesus says, “If you know me, then you will know my Father.” 

If you know me… Listen, the disciples were with Jesus day and night for three years and they struggled to know him. We, however, have 2,000 years of teachings about Jesus to draw upon to know him, we have the scripture to draw upon and we have the Mass we celebrate to build upon our understanding of Jesus. But do we know him? And if we knew him better, what would that mean for us?

I recently finished reading a book called, “Saint John Paul the Great, His Five Loves” by Jason Evert and I loved it. John Paul II, now there is a man, a pope, who knew Jesus right? Probably the holiest person we have ever seen in our lives. He was constantly praying, doing rosaries, and traveling the world spreading the Gospel. Incredible Pope, and an incredible leader for us to follow. But do you know what he prayed for constantly? When he did the rosary or when he would spend hours in Eucharistic Adoration, he prayed a simple prayer that was also a favorite of Saint Francis of Assisi. He prayed and simply asked God – who are you Lord… and who am I? He felt, even as Pope, that he needed to know Jesus more deeply than he already did. So, he prayed for just that – who are you Lord, and who am I.

Why? Why would one of the greatest Pope’s ever need to pray to ask to know his Lord better? And if JPII knows him better, what does that do for him and for the flock he leads? The Gospel today has an answer to that.

“If you know me, then you will also know the Father”. If we got to know Jesus more deeply, if we understand him a little more, then we too can understand what he wants from us in our lives. We can know how he views us. We can make fewer mistakes in our lives because we can trust him so much more deeply. And as he said to Thomas, “Where I am going you know the way.” I want to know the way to where he is going!

The second reading today from Saint Peter picks up on this theme where he says, “Let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood.” “Let yourselves be built” is very much connected to “if you know me.” By exploring this relationship with Jesus Christ, we are letting ourselves be built into a spiritual house because we do know him better and can follow his will. Christ is the foundation stone for that house.

As I reflected on this throughout the week, I took this to prayer asking God who he is and how he views me, following the lead of John Paul II. I prayed a rosary and asked for Jesus to send the Holy Spirit more deeply into my heart so that I can say at least a little more firmly that I know him. It may not be a flash of understanding, but slowly we can get to know him more deeply, we can be built into that spiritual house, we can understand what he is asking of us in this life, we can do his will… because we do know him.

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