April 10, 2010
“And God said ...”
2nd Sunday of Easter
April 11, 2010
John 20: 19-31 “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed”
One of the phrases that struck me in the Easter Vigil Mass was “And God said… And so it happened” Genesis (1:1 – 2:2). The twin verse was repeated seven times. In the gospels’ resurrection stories, we have seen how Jesus repeatedly stressed the fulfillment of his Words: He will be killed but raised on the third day (Matthew 16:21). When we look back at our life, the phrase “And God said…And so it happened” is also true to us. God is ever faithful to his Words from Genesis, to the time of Jesus, and to our present time. This reality consoles us much.
In our gospel reading, when Jesus appeared to his disciples and said “Peace be with you” (John 20:19) and showed his nailed hands, it was another “God said… and so it happened” experience. When the disciples realized that Jesus fulfilled his promises, their fear, hopelessness and sadness quickly disappeared; a deep joy and consolation filled their hearts. There was nothing to fear. Peace flooded their hearts and gained courage to face the world.
Unfortunately, to believe in Jesus is not always easy, especially when one is tied-down with his/her “empty tomb” experience. Thomas, in spite of the news that Jesus has risen, wanted to ground his faith on something tangible and verifiable by his senses. He wanted to touch the wounds of Jesus for him to believe. But faith is not based on what we see and hear. It is grounded in remembering “God’s promises and its fulfillment.” And so when Jesus has risen from the dead and appeared to his disciples, the first thing he did was to console his disciples - by helping them to remember His Words and how He fulfilled them.
Each one of us has its own personal experience of “And God said…And so it happened.” Jesus wants us to believe in Him by recalling God’s goodness in our life, and not by asking signs like Thomas. He demanded to see the marks of the nails in Jesus’ hands for him to believe. Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:29).
On the other hand, John was the opposite of Thomas. He did not see the body of Jesus in the tomb, yet he believed when he remembered the Words of Jesus and saw its fulfillment in the empty tomb (John 20:1-9). On the way to Emmaus, Jesus helped the two disciples to understand the prophecy about him from the time of Moses and the prophets (Luke 24:27).
The gospel wants us to remember our past and see how God fulfilled his promises - of His divine providence, protection and mercy. Sometimes, pain and sufferings blind us from seeing God’s unwavering presence in our lives. In the midst of trials, we claim that God abandoned us; but in reality, it is us who abandoned God when we start doubting Him.
In the Second Reading, John encourages us to look back and realize that there’s no single moment in our life that God abandoned us: “Write down, therefore, what you have seen, and what is happening, and what will happen afterwards” (Revelations 1:19).
The resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate reason why we should place our lives in God’s hands. In this unsecured and unstable world where nothing is permanent but change, God is our only hope and refuge. “I am with you always, until the end of time.” (Matthew 28:20). He is true to his Words. Be at peace.
Recall one or two of your greatest trials in your life. Open your eyes and see how God had helped you. See and believe. God fulfills his promises. All the time!
- Willy M. Samson,SJ / Blessed Sacrament Parish , Hollywood, CA / April 11, 2010