A Father’s Gifts

A Father’s Gifts

mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our risen Lord and
Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

many times a day do you think: “If I only had $10,000 to pay off my credit
cards and get back to square one,”
or, “If only my husband hadn’t died
so young,”
or, “If only I was 3 inches taller, and my waist was 3 inches

many times do you say with regret, “If only I had gotten an ‘A’ instead of a
‘B’ on that test,”
or, “I wish that I had learned a foreign language as
a child,”
or, “If only I had made that winning play for the
or “I wish I could get this house cleaned and organized
once and for all,”
or, “I wish I could sing better”?

many times a day do you think: “If only we had better leaders in the Church
and in our government,”
or, “If only we had a few more people here to
carry the load,”
or“Why can’t we find a single large donor to take
away the financial strain on the congregation”
? Then, life would be good,
and you could go about your life as you desire, right?

many times a day do you survey your life, and find it insufficient and
unsatisfying? How many times do you add up your debts, and tack on nice chunk
of dollars for a dream vacation and a tiny pittance for your church
contribution and pray, consciously or subconsciously: “O God, give me this
much money in a windfall, and it will be sufficient; I won’t make the same
mistakes again”

I should ask, how many times an hour do you think like that, for no
one’s life is free of dissatisfactions or regrets.

of your regrets. Repent of your fears. Repent of your selfishness. God is
good. He has not forgotten you. He knows what you need, what I need, what the
Church needs, and what the world needs. He also knows what you don’t
need, and what is harmful. [PAUSE]

apostles sat in the upper room on the night of the betrayal. Washed by their
loving Master, their feet were clean. Thanks to the speaking of His word, so
were their hearts. The Lord had given them His Body and His Blood for the
remission of their sins.

then St. Philip, still in the flesh, still subject to its temptations, said to
Jesus: “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”

Phillip. He is no better than us. He is deluded and confused. “Show us
the Father,” he says. “That is what we need.”

doesn’t know what he is asking. His discontent with seeing the Son is obvious.
He considers his current situation insufficient. Phillip wants something more
than Jesus. It is blasphemy. Which is right where the devil wants him.

problem is not that Phillip is truly lacking anything. The problem is that
Phillip is still suffering in this fallen world, still looking to have the
world shaped into an image he’d be more comfortable and satisfied with. He is
frustrated, and tired, and maybe even a little afraid. He wants the past to go
away. He wants temptation to stop.

wants that emotional and spiritual high from the feeding of the five thousand,
or the telling of the parables, that rush he had when he first came to believe
that Jesus was the Son of God, to go on and on, and never end. He wants to go
to the Mount of Transfiguration with Peter, James, and John.

instead, Phillip has to go to Gethsemane first, and face his own inadequacy. He
has to wait for Easter evening, with no more proof that it will come than the
testimony of the prophets, and the miracles that Jesus performed. [PAUSE]

frustration is not completely wrong. It was something akin to this frustration
with a broken world that moved Our Lord to the compassion that raised Lazarus
from the dead, fed the multitudes, healed the sick, and cast out demons. It was
also something similar to this that caused Him to weep over Jerusalem and drive
out the money changers.

in the upper room, St. Phillip, though he was fully forgiven in Christ, was not
yet complete in his sanctification. So Phillip wrongly blamed God for his
dissatisfaction. He thought God was somehow holding out on him. He even came up
with his own plan of what God could do, or should do, to make it right: “Show
us the Father,” he asked. Phillip was dissatisfied with just Jesus.

here is the great irony: Phillip was already seeing the Father. And here is the
even greater sadness: Phillip didn’t yet believe it. What God has done, and is
doing in Christ, is more than sufficient for Phillip. It is fully sufficient
for Phillip’s sins, for his doubts and worries and concerns, for all of his
inadequacies, failures, and regrets.

Phillip was not yet willing to do—that is, to trust in the goodness of
the Lord and His promise to make all things new—Jesus was willing to do. And
Jesus’ willingness to die, to go as a Lamb to the slaughter, to turn the other
cheek, to take on the guilt of guilty men who reviled Him, is completely
sufficient for Phillip, and it’s fully adequate for you.

willingness to die, to be the Sacrifice for sins to restore us again to the
Father, is how the Father is shown and known to us. It is sufficient to pay the
ransom, to defeat the devil, and to open heaven itself to you.

as it was to witness, even from afar, St. Phillip needed Gethsemane and the
trial. Phillip needed Jesus to die, and while yet in the flesh, he even need his
own failure and shame. He needed to experience all of that before Easter;
before the peace and the breathing out of the Holy Spirit. It is what was good
and best for him. It was sufficient to make him both a saint and an apostle, to
be part of the foundation of the Church which is built on Jesus Christ.

all these things that you want in your life: honor and respect, fame and
fortune, physical pleasure and a life of leisure, even health and intellect –
all these things are found in the Son. But they are not found in the way we
might first think, and certainly not in the way of our fallen wants.

For all
these things—all your heart’s truest desires—are not found in material rewards
and gifts, but in faith. In faith comes perfect peace and patience in the face
of sinful dissatisfaction.

is asked according to the Father’s will, and asked in Jesus’ Name, comes true
in His death and resurrection, in submission to His Word, and in the hope of
His goodness and promise. All of these things, He has done for us. All these
things He is still doing. All these things, He will do—for you and for me,
eternally. Thus He sends the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit glorifies Him in
blessing you, in forgiving and reviving you, in showing you the Father in the
crucified and risen Son.

do not be afraid to ask for the things of this earth. Go ahead, pray for a
winning lottery ticket. Pray for your team to win. Pray that you may get good
grades, and that the pretty girl or handsome boy will like you. Go ahead: Pray
without fear. Your Father will not fail you. He will not only not give
you a snake if you ask for bread; He will also not give you a snake even if
you, in ignorance or foolishness, ask for a snake. He loves you, and your
prayers please Him.

you ask according to His will; whatever you ask in Jesus’ Name, He will do. And
it will be good—more than good, really, it will be perfect for you—and you will
be glad. You might still have to go to Gethsemane, to the Praetorium, to
Calvary, and to the tomb.

soon, your own Easter will come. Your sanctification will then be as full as
that of St. Phillip, as full as that of all the apostles, martyrs, prophets,
and saints who have gone before you, and who even now pray for you. You will
then see the Father, in the Son, by the Spirit, without doubt or sorrow, and
without regret.

(+) Jesus’ Name. Amen.