The next sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy; and blaspheming, they contradicted what was spoken by Paul. Then both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, "It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you. Since you reject it and judge yourselves to be unworthy of eternal life, we are now turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, "I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles, so that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'"
When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and praised the word of the Lord; and as many as had been destined for eternal life became believers. Thus the word of the Lord spread throughout the region. But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, and stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their region. So they shook the dust off their feet in protest against them, and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Sing a new song to the Lord
for he has worked wonders.
His right hand and his holy arm
have brought salvation. (R./)
The Lord has made known his salvation;
has shown his justice to the nations.
He has remembered his truth and love
for the house of Israel. (R./)
All the ends of the earth
have seen the salvation of our God.
Shout to the Lord all the earth,
ring out your joy. (R./)
Jesus said to his disciples,
"If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."
Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, "Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it."
Adapting our vision of God to large-scale changes in the surrounding culture can be difficult and divisive, as Catholics very well know. Our church found it so in the wake of Vatican II, and is still experiencing this tension more than a half-century later, with traditional doctrines being critically tested against widely shared values of our times. As we grapple with such trends and changes we might recall Jesus' words to the apostle Philip: "Whoever believes in me will do the works I do, and greater far than these." How can our works be greater than those of Jesus? Is he teasing us with unreal praise or inviting us, prodding us to move on?
Here is something parents often think and say to their children: "what I couldn't do, you must do! Take up my dreams and bring them into reality." Jesus dreamed of a mission to the entire world and yet in practice could not act upon it in his lifetime. He told the Canaanite woman, just outside of Jewish territory, "My mission is only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." When she persisted, he first resisted before saying, "Woman, you have great faith! You can have your wish." (Matt 15:21-28). "Your wish," Jesus seemed to say, "is my wish." How he longed to see humanity united around the heavenly banquet table. No one would need to survive from crumbs that fall from the master's table.
When Paul and Barnabas were expelled from the synagogue and extradited from the territory, it served the spread of the Gospel. Or that was how Paul saw it. He quotes from Isaiah: "I have made you a light to the nations, a means of salvation to the ends of the world." We can apply this principle in any personal crisis or change, trusting that the whole process is under the loving, guiding providence of our God.
You'll often hear parents complain that their children are never satisfied. In a sense that is probably true of us all. We are never satisfied. Saint Augustine said that our hearts are restless until they rest in God. Philip expressed something of this when he asked Jesus, "Let us see the Father, and then we shall be satisfied." He understood that if only he could see the face of God all his longings would be satisfied. Jesus replied, "To have seen me is to have seen the Father." It is he himself who reveals the Father; he is the way to the Father.
We won't see the face of God in this life, but God has sent us his Son. We cannot see Jesus physically as the apostles saw him, but we can see him with the eyes of faith. We can see him in his Word, in the Eucharist, in the other Sacraments, in each other. Such "seeing" of the Lord won't fully satisfy us but it gives us a glimpse of what awaits us.