The Mystery of Christ

The Apostles still find our Lord’s words very mysterious, because they can-

not understand the oneness of the Father and the Son. Hence Philip’s persistence.

Then Jesus “upbraids the Apostle for not yet knowing Him, even though His works

are proper to God–walking on the water, controlling the wind, forgiving sins, raising

the dead. This is why He reproves him: for not recognizing His divine condition

through His human nature” (St. Augustine, “De Trinitate”, Book 7).


Obviously the sight of the Father which Jesus refers to in this passage is a vision

through faith, for no one has ever seen God as He is (cf. John 1:18; 6:46). All ma-

nifestations of God, or “theophanies”, have been through some medium; they are

only a reflection of God’s greatness. The highest expression which we have of

God our Father is in Christ Jesus, the Son of God sent among men. “He did this

by the total fact of His presence and self-manifestation–by words and works,

signs and miracles, but above all by His death and glorious resurrection from the

dead, and finally by sending the Spirit of truth. He revealed that God was with us,

to deliver us from the darkness of sin and death, and to raise us up to eternal life”

(Vatican II, “Dei Verbum”, 4).


12-14. Before leaving this world, the Lord promises His Apostles to make them

sharers in His power so that God’s salvation may be manifested through them.

These “works” are the miracles they will work in the name of Jesus Christ (cf.

Acts 3:1-10; 5:15-16; etc.), and especially the conversion of people to the Chris-

tian faith and their sanctification by preaching and the ministry of the sacraments.

They can be considered greater works than Jesus’ own insofar as, by the Apos-

tles’ ministry, the Gospel was not only preached in Palestine but was spread to

the ends of the earth; but this extraordinary power of apostolic preaching pro-

ceeds from Christ, who has ascended to the Father: after undergoing the humi-

liation of the cross Jesus has been glorified and from Heaven He manifests His

power by acting through His Apostles.


The Apostles’ power, therefore, derives from Christ glorified. Christ our Lord says

as much: “Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it”. “It is not that he who be-

lieves in Me will be greater than Me, but that only that I shall then do greater

works than now; greater, by him who believes in Me, than I now do by myself

without Him” (St. Augustine, “In Ioann. Evang.”, 72, 1).


Jesus Christ is our intercessor in Heaven; therefore, He promises us that every-

thing we ask for in His name, He will do. Asking in His name (cf. 15:7, 16; 16:

2324) means appealing to the power of the risen Christ, believing that He is all-

powerful and merciful because He is true God; and it also means asking for what

is conducive to our salvation, for Jesus is our Savior. Thus, by “whatever you ask”

we must understand what is for the good of the asker. When our Lord does not

give what we ask for, the reason is that it would not make for our salvation. In

this way we can see that He is our Savior both when He refuses us what we

ask and when He grants it.


Reflection from “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”