Philip began the day focusing on the person of Jesus. He pointed out that the Scriptures can be used to justify what we want to hold dear and in so doing we can create an image of Jesus that we feel comfortable with. He showed how many social evils (slavery and persecution) have used the name of Jesus to justify such injustice. Therefore, we need to get in touch with the original message of Jesus that somehow has been lost in the events of history.
Philip quoted from Pope Francis who used the image of Jesus knocking at the door. Was he inside, knocking to get out, to get out of the confining practices and beliefs that have prevented the good news from flourishing? We are being called to keep the fire of Jesus alive in our hearts so that the fire keeps burning. So, the key question is what will renew my soul? How do I share the vision that will sustain people as they move through life? We cannot share the vision, however, if we do not have the vision ourselves. If we are not feeding our souls, how can we feed others?
Philip then asked the group what was the traditional understanding of Jesus that they grew up with? He then asked what the group would say about the dream of Jesus and the reign of God? Philip then stressed that there was no self-seeking in the message of Jesus, whereas he said that often there is much self-seeking in the way the reign of God is proclaimed. Philip also asked if our understanding of Jesus had developed over the years?
Philip then outlined how the human Jesus became a spiritual, non-material reality which stressed his divinity and underplayed his humanity. He said that often we put theological language on the identity of Jesus and in so doing we lose the real person of Jesus. We need to rediscover this person and recognise those areas of my life which are empty of God. The life of Jesus showed how a life full of God looked like. The experience of the early disciples was that they recognised in the person of Jesus the fullest revelation of God. But they did not worship him; they did not just admire him. They followed him. They left behind their nets, and committed their lives to him.
Today, we are in danger of adoring a glorified Jesus and forgetting to follow him! Following Jesus brings us to a new understanding of God. Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity. Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God. And it is this message of Jesus that we need to embrace. We need to come to an adult understanding of our faith. And in doing this we come to a new consciousness of God’s love. God becomes visible in the human face of Jesus. Jesus’ message was that we are not separate from God. In his outreach to those at the margins of society, he showed how they were not separate from God even though they were being outcast from the creeds and practices of Jewish orthodoxy.