Blessed are those who have not seen, but yet still believe.
My Dear People,
The scene from today’s Gospel of the Apostle Thomas, doubting the appearance of the risen Jesus, is familiar to us. Thomas wants proof! He uses the excuse that if he cannot ‘touch’ with his own hands the things of God, or God Himself, then he will withhold belief. So many people of our age, like Thomas, reflect that since God doesn’t meet the criteria they have set for believing, they consider it foolish to put faith in the ‘invisible’ without proof. First, to be fair, Thomas the Apostle followed Jesus for three years, having left everything for Him, and believed in Him and loved Him. Thomas is not in the same category, properly speaking, as those who excuse themselves from believing on grounds of insufficient evidence. But his episode recounted today, “Unless I see and touch the wounds myself, I will not believe”, makes us, as believers, consider what Faith itself is. “Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet still believe.”
Did Thomas really lack proof? Sure, he wasn’t there when Our Lord appeared to the other Apostles. But, does this mean he completely lacked evidence for believing their word about Jesus having risen? Not really. Our Lord had done countless miracles for three years, humanly impossible, as well as predicting time after time that He would rise again after three days. The combination of the evidently supernatural and divine power that Christ possessed, witnessed over a long period of time, made quite credible the story from the other Apostles about having seen Jesus. Not only that, but Thomas knew that his fellow disciples were not liars. Both the power of Jesus as well as the trustworthiness of the witnesses made believing in the resurrection appearance very reasonable. Even if Thomas did not see it with his own eyes, he had more than enough proof. For us, this puts the ‘reasonableness’ of Faith, of believing, in a clearer light. Especially during a moment when, as events in the world disturb and frighten us, certain people can use these difficulties as a weapon to discredit believers or claim that Faith is foolish.
Belief in God, in Jesus Christ, does take courage because we cannot ‘see’ the realities of our Faith in the way that we see purely human things. This, however, doesn’t mean that God isn’t giving us quite a bit of help to strengthen our belief, if we would be willing to open our eyes to it. Most of us have felt and known the power of God in our life in a way that is more than imagination or feeling. God has intervened to help us. Sometimes we may have received one of the Sacraments and experienced a powerful, interior change that is undeniable and unexplainable. Like Thomas, when the moments of temptation to doubt come, we need to remember those other times when God made His presence and power known to us.
The root of Faith, in the way that we mean it about God, is that we are putting our trust in the ‘truthfulness’ of God Himself. We believe because God is trustworthy. If God is God, so to speak, He does not deceive, nor can He be deceived. Since we are human beings, though, we get our knowledge through external things, including people. While God does occasionally intervene in an extraordinary way to some people to cause their belief, for most of us, God uses human instruments to help us know Him. Thomas the Apostle had heard from the other disciples, who were trustworthy, that they had seen Jesus risen from the dead. He learned, from credible witnesses whom he knew personally, that Jesus appeared to them. Their story itself was possible because Thomas knew the power of Jesus before He had been crucified. The reality and ‘fact’ of the Resurrection has been passed down to us through the credible witness of the Apostles and believers to this very day in 2020. Since our Faith rests on this central act, which makes Faith more than belief in a fairytale or myth, the ‘credibility’ of it is essential. Just because the Resurrection is extraordinary doesn’t mean it is unreasonable to believe.
Christ is still showing us His power to this very day. That the Catholic Church still exists after 2,000 years, teaching the very same thing and celebrating the same Sacraments is itself a miracle. A purely human institution could never do this. Think of the extraordinary holiness of the saints which defies normal human goodness. A Mother Teresa can only be the work of God, yet the Church, even with all the sinful members, still produces these superhuman giants of divine goodness throughout the ages to this very day. Lourdes, France, is renowned for the miracles wrought there which are attested by secular scientists who admit there is no human explanation.
God is still giving us help to believe through things like this and many others. However, the act of believing, even if it is helped and ‘mediated’ by human instruments, including the Church herself, is still between every one of us and Jesus Christ. In the end, after we have ‘heard’ from other witnesses, or seen extraordinary things intimating divine power, we have to make a choice. Every individual Christian has to go before Christ in the depths of their hearts and say to Jesus: My Lord and My God, just like Thomas did. The act of Faith, of believing is personal, because the revelation of God is a personal one.
The events of the world at the moment, may well put our Faith to the test, or maybe not. Whether the coronavirus does or not, our Faith will be tested. It needs to be so, in order that we make a choice to believe in what God has promised, not just in general, but for us personally.
Faith is not blind, but it is obscure, which comes from the Latin word ‘dark’, like the Italian word ‘oscuro’. Faith sees by another light, that of eternity. It is dark because, were we to see it as it is, it would indeed blind us by its brilliance and beauty. We have only the brief moment of our life on earth to give God the proof of our love for Him by Faith. God has given us more than enough ‘proof’, not just to believe in Him, but to love Him. Believing in His word and promises is, for us, a sign of our love for Him. The light of Faith may be obscure, but it is more powerful than the sun. Every second the sun produces the same energy as a trillion 1 megaton bombs. A little bit of Faith then goes a very long way. A lot of Faith goes farther. This is why heaven is lit by the Light of the Lamb, as the book of Revelation says. Let us walk by the Light of this sun, even if the way seems darker than usual. The darker the way, the more blessed the belief. My Lord and My God! O night more glorious than the day. O Love, more powerful than death.