Sunday readings in brief 2 Easter C
Faith and physical senses
Acts 5:12-16; Ps 117(118); Apo 1:9-13,17-19; Jn 20:19-31
Dear friends we are entering the second week of Easter within the fifty days that the Church calendar gives us to celebrate the joy of the resurrection of our Saviour. After forty days of accompanying Jesus through his passion and death, we now rejoice because of his victorious resurrection. This is what made all the difference because, “if Christ did not raise from the dead, our faith is futile and we would still be in our sins” (1 Cor 14:14).
After rising from the dead, Jesus manifested himself to his close disciples and entrusted to them the mission to proclaim him alive. This was not an easy task because already the Jews had given a lot of money to the tomb guards to spread lies that his disciples had stolen the body when they were asleep. The question is if indeed they were asleep, how did they know it was the disciples of Jesus who stole the body? Unlike some of us who would rather go back to the city center and show ourselves to those who persecuted and killed us, Jesus chose that those who believed in him tell his resurrection. He did not want to cause panic among the Jews but instead gave his disciples the job to spread the Good News to those who would listen to them.
The character of Thomas, the disciple who was absent when Jesus showed himself for the first time to his disciples, is still present in many even among the baptized. Today many people are looking for miracles that can be experienced through physical senses. The contradiction is that faith by definition is independent of physical proofs as St. Paul tell us: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not apparent” (Hb 11:1ff).
Realizing this quest for physical demonstrations of faith, many business-oriented people have invested in the business of miracles. God’s blessing and favours have become commodities that can be purchased by monies. Many do not seek to be instructed in faith and live according to the creed but rather seek “take away” miracles. The venders of this important commodity have invested in innovation and ways to attract more customers. The advertisement of miracles compete with that of alcohol on billboards. The question I ask myself is that if the risen Lord intended this, why he did not show himself to Pontius Pilate and the Jews who crucified him at Jerusalem Temple or the City Hall.
St. John tells us that when the risen Lord appeared to him, he instructed that he should write all the things he saw. Our faith his based on the preaching of the Good News that has been handed over to us from the disciples of Jesus through the Holy Scripture and Traditions. No one who saw the risen Lord physically is alive today and so we need not base our faith on those who try to act Jesus in the present day. The miracles performed by Peter and John in the Acts of the Apostles were the fruits of the faith and closeness to Jesus and not solicited or orchestrated to make people believe “Amen, amen I say to you, whoever believes in me shall also do the works that I do; and greater things than these shall he do” (Jn 14:12).
Having faith without instruction is like holding a gun without knowing how it works and the result is disastrous. Faith must be the outcome of a deep transformation after thorough instructions on the life, passion, death and resurrection of Christ. This is why the liturgical calendar offers us different seasons to contemplate the history of salvation. We begin with the advent season that prepares us for the birth of our saviour, and then follows Christmas that brings us joy that our salvation has come. The Lenten season or the passion season helps us accompany Jesus in his suffering so that we may really appreciate the price of our salvation. Easter season brings us joy of being saved. However, it is the long season we call the Ordinary Time that helps us to understand the kingdom of God and what is takes to be part of it. The catechumens are supposed to experience the dynamics of these seasons so that having been instructed deeply into the mysteries of the kingdom of God; they may make free decisions to be baptized. This way, faith becomes a part of the person’s day-to-day living and not something to be invoked during problems and challenges. Emotional and miracle based belief is very difficult if not impossible to sustain.
Dear friends, I invite us to reflect and see if we really have enough information about the things we believe or it is those random hysterical moments of uplifting that we call faith in our lives.
Have a blessed Sunday
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD