HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR B
HOMILY THEME: BELIEVING IS SEEING
BY: Fr. Christian Eze
First reading – Acts 4:32-35
Second reading – 1 Jn 5:1-6
Gospel – Jn 20:19-31
One might be tempted to think that there is a typing error in the topic above. Yes because we are used to the saying “seeing is believing” and not “believing is seeing”. There are indeed great differences in the two expressions. One is earthly, the other is heavenly. One is about Faith, the other is about evidence. One is scientific, the other miraculous. One attracts a “Waawww!” kind of response. The other is satisfied with an “Ok then” kind of response. One deals with human relations, the other deals with Divine relations. And what we must know is that we run into confusion anytime we try to apply one in place of the other. I mean, we get hooked to say “seeing is believing” while dealing with God; we also run risk to say “believing is seeing” while dealing with man. This explains the confusion Thomas the apostle got himself into in the gospel of today. Thomas, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, sought to apply human evidence before he could believe heavenly things. The resurrection was a Divine action and not human. As such, even though there was the evidence of the empty tomb, the cause of which was even disputable among the Jews, we need Faith in the words spoken by Jesus Himself that on the third day He would rise, to believe that he truly rose from the dead in accordance with the Scriptures.
Our basic Catechism tells us that “Faith is a supernatural gift of God which enables us to BELIEVE WITHOUT DOUBTING whatever God has revealed”. The first thing I leant from Very Rev Fr Felix Nwatu, who taught me Fundamental Theology as a first year student of Theology was that Faith is the Habitus of Theology. Thus in our relationship with God, we cannot do without Faith. We have good examples of those who met with God’s favour because of their strong Faith which enabled them to believe God whole and entire, without doubts. The first among these was Abraham. Abraham was still childless when God promised to make his descendant as many as the stars in the heaven Gen. 15: 5-6. And when the time came in gen 18:10-15, Sarah could not believe this word; because it sounded absurd to her. There was no human, scientific evidence to make one believe that Sarah could still bear a child. Yet Abraham believed God. We read in 1 kg 17: 7-16 the story of the Zeraphat woman and the oil. If not Faith, what human evidence could one have to believe that the jar of oil would not get used up? Good news is that Jesus has proclaimed here, blessings for those who would have faith, those who would not seek the evidence and yet believe God- Happy (Blessed) are those who have not seen, yet believe – Jn 20:29. The Blessed Virgin Mary was called Blessed because she too believed that she would conceive in a manner that cannot be humanly explained or scientifically be proven – Lk. 1:45.
A great question to ask is: what is it that I am being called today to believe? What has God revealed? Where would I find it? A great thing among these is in the Apostles Creed which is a compendium of what the Catholic Church believes. One of the articles of faith which many of our separated brethren refuse to believe due to want of exact evidence is: Forgiveness of sins. Interesting enough, it was at this very passage of the gospel today that Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Penance. Yet many ask: why should there be anything like going to the Catholic priest for the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Perhaps the event of Jesus’ encounter with Thomas would be pointing finger to those who always ask, or who may have left the Catholic Church, because of the question: where is it in the Bible? The Church (Catholic) has the deposit of Faith, and unto her is given by Christ a teaching authority. The Lord Jesus promise to be with the Church as she carries out this function – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…teach them. I am with you always, yes, to the end of time” – Matt. 28:19-20.
Through the Spirit, Christ has guided the Church in the path of Truth and has revealed to her the mysteries of the Eternal Word whose contend is not only that which we can humanly and physically read. What we mean is that while everything in the Bible is revealed by God and holds true, it is not everything that God revealed and which hold true that is in the Bible. Today’s gospel concludes by saying: “There are many other signs that Jesus worked and THE DISCIPLES SAW, but they are not recorded in this book”. – Jn: 20:30. Such things must have been handed down to us as the Sacred Tradition. No wonder St Paul admonishes us: “Stand firm, brothers, and keep the traditions that we taught you whether by word of mouth or by letter” – 2 Thessalonians 2:15. You may have every conviction to doubt. But just consider these expressions I read up somewhere: The most foolish thing to do is to doubt God even when there is no evidence to believe him The wisest thing to do is to believe God even when there is every evidence to doubt him.