Introduction: in this text of John 1:43-45, we shall concentrate our attention to the person of Philip called by Jesus to become his forth apostle. Little is known of him in the synoptic gospels (Mathew, Mark, and Luke) but here in John’s Gospel a couple of texts will give us some clues of his personality and his personal relationship with Jesus.
Give me the grace to know the person of
your Son Jesus, his vision and his mission
so that I may commit myself entirely to him
and your plan of Salvation.
- Read the Gospel of John 1:43-45; read the text slowly and listen attentively with the ‘ear of your heart’. What word, sentence or phrase stands out for you?
- Reflect: read the text again and pay attention of what touches you; why is it meaningful for you. What thought or reflection comes to you.
- Respond: read the text again but this time respond spontaneously to the word of God. In other words, make a dialogue with God what comes from within you. What gift does this text lead me to ask for from the Lord?
- Stay with the Word: read the text a final time and rest in the word. Allow God to speak to you in deep silence. Don’t say anything just listen to God’s words. What is He saying?
- Take now the word, sentence or phase, into your daily life/activity; allow it to become part of you. Always listen to it, reflect on it, pray over it and rest on it as time allows during the day. Then allow the Word lead you action.
Concluding your ‘Lectio Divina’ with the ‘Our Father’…
Reflection: the starting point of our reflection will be around Jesus meeting Philip on the road to Galilee. We can say that Philip was recognised by Jesus as one of those whom the Father entrusted to him, invited to join Jesus in his journey in the company of those he called first. To explore the text more in depth we can ask ourselves two questions: How and Why Jesus decided to leave for Galilee? What did Jesus see in Philip different from the other three disciples?
Central Message: …”Jesus had decided to leave for Galilee, he met Philip and said, ‘Follow me’…Phillip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law…whom the prophets wrote ‘He is Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth’…
a) “Jesus decided to leave for Galilee” (v43). The word ‘decided’ suggests that Jesus was in a position of making discernment not only about a place but also a person. About a place, he had to decide whether to returned to Galilee or go somewhere else, or to remain with his disciples teaching them and getting acquainted with each other. About a person, the Gospel of Luke tells us that before choosing his apostles Jesus went alone to a lonely place to pray to the Father in search of his will (Luke 6:12) After which he chose the 12 as his apostles. Whenever Jesus was to make important decision he always did it in prayer with the Father. And so perhaps he did the same here in this text since he had to make a decision not only of a place but also of his new disciple.
Jesus wanted to start spreading the Good News of God’s presence among all peoples in his very person, so that “all may believe in him and by believing they may have eternal life” (Jn 20:31). He started his mission with his apostles letting them know who he was by words and deeds “come and see” said Jesus. So the journey of the disciple’s faith in the Messiah, the Son of God, was deepening as they saw him with their own eyes and heard him with their own ears. The decision to leave for Galilee could also have indicated the intention to stop over in Cana to attend a wedding feast where his mother was invited too and where he was going to reveal himself to the people and his glory.
b) “He (Jesus) met Philip and said, ‘Follow me’… (v43) We presumed that Jesus knew he was going to meet Philip since he had already pray for him before. Philip was one among others whom God gave to Jesus “I pray for them…whom you have given to me” (Jn 17:9) It is Jesus who found Philip on the road to Galilee, he is the one taking the initiative of calling Philip to follow him. This is a very different story from the other two disciples, John and Andrew, who approached Jesus and went after him.
So here we have, so to speak, the outcome of Jesus’ decision to leave for Galilee, the meeting of Philip and making him his apostle and instrument of faith in Jesus’ ministry (cfr. Jn 6:5-7; 12:20-21 and 14:8). It was a special encounter between Jesus and Philip, a quite different and unique from the other disciples. Philip was already in Jesus’ plans to become one of his followers and a foundation stone of the Christian faith. Though we do not know much of their conversation but we can imagine what could have taken place as they talked to each other. So, I suggest we may spend some moments contemplating the scene. Do as if you have taken a photo, freeze the scene to be able to see what is going on there, hear what Jesu is saying; hear those who are present, what are they saying; interact with them, enter into their conversation. What do see, what do hear, what are you saying?
c) …”Phillip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law…whom the prophets wrote” … Philip, after the encounter with Jesus, not only confirmed his discovery of the Messiah, as taught in synagogues and heard it from the crowds (vocal tradition), but also he discovered his vocation in that personal encounter with Jesus together with his companions “we found the One”. The founding of Jesus was the turning point of their lives; they found themselves, who they were (identity), and their vocation in life. From that very moment on they were never the same as they left everything and even they were changed their names and given special powers. Apparently from the conversations with Jesus, Philip could figure out the identity of Jesus as the ‘Messiah’ and his origin ‘He is Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth’… This didn’t cause any negative reaction in Philip as it caused to others. We shall see later on, for example, the reaction of Nathanael as he herd Jesus origin.
Some questions for our reflexion:
- What did Jesus see in Philip that invited him to be one of his close disciples? What did Philip see in Jesus that started following him? (You may ask the same questions for yourself)
- What was your personal experience as you contemplate the scene between Jesus and Philip? How did you interact? What did you see, hear and say?