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


  1. Thank you for sharing your homilies. I am very happy - although you are very busy but that all is well with you. As I read your latest homily, I can not help but be touched by what you shared…”God said…and so it happened”, and as I look back, indeed God has fulfilled all His promises to me, in spite of my falling short of my ‘yes’ to Him. God is simply amazing…and as though it is not enough yet, He continues to promise…and – by His grace - I will continue to look forward to His promises…to hold on to His words…for it will come and it will happen.


  3. God said…and so it happened.

    Perhaps the year was 1980. I am not sure; it may be a little earlier or a little later. One thing I am sure though, it was noon and I was bringing my 2 boys to school from lunch. One was in kindergarten and the other one was in grade 1.

    The classrooms were a distance from the parking area and I walked them to their rooms. The grade school was enclosed with a fence made of interlinked wire and as we went through the gate I knelt and embraced my two sons very tight, rather unusual for me to do since the regular routine was a kiss and a good bye to both of them.

    But that day was different. That day…was the day that I decided to throw in the towel. I felt I was at the end of my rope and will just have to let go…and that’s it. So, full of despair, I have contemplated days before to end my life. I decided – not for any particular reason – to end it that day. And so embracing my kids rather tight, kissed each of them… and said a small prayer. I endorsed my children to God. I can still partly remember what I said to God…”Lord take my children…they are yours, I know that you’ll never abandon them…for I could no longer take care of them and I am exiting”. I guess I was still embracing them when I heard, but amazingly, at the same time I saw the words – it was very bright, bright but not glaring. Not only did I hear and see the words but I felt it, it was as though all of my senses, every part of me, my entire being was attuned to the Voice. The Voice said…”Are you not my child that I should not take care of you? Are they not my children that I should not take care of them?”

    Years later, learning to let go and letting God…I found myself back in my home town. Things did not get better…in fact it got worse. A year after arriving in our hometown, I was having trouble making ends meet. It was the summer of 1989 and I knelt before God and cried. Ever since I turned my life and that of my family to Him, things did not improve, nor were they smooth but got more difficult for all of us. Financially, we lost most of what we had…and we felt all alone.

    Kneeling before God that day, I prayed and cried…I was really in a fix. Another school year was fast approaching. I still had a huge amount of unpaid school and tuition fees for all of my children and I could hardly provide for our basic necessities, much less think about their tuitions. And so I cried to God. I remember asking Him how I could continue supporting them to school. I told God that perhaps it would be easier if I send them to a public school, but quickly added that I wanted my children to be in a catholic school for I wanted them to know Him. At that time my two younger boys were in a catholic grade school, while my eldest was in third year going to fourth year in another catholic high school. Then I remember His words…” Are you not my child that I should not take care of you? Are they not my children that I should not take care of them?”
    Today, my eldest son has graduated from college with honor and went on to finish his accounting four years later. He is now about to graduate in his master. My second son graduated this year in accounting and my third graduated with honor in Manila. I, for myself, during those trying but grace-filled years earned my master of science in engineering, became a professor and recently built our own house in Manila. God is indeed true to His promise. God said…and so it happened.

    I know the story does not end here for I know it is God who is writing our story…it is really His story. He continually makes promises…promises that seem impossible and I look forward to more of His promises for I know that the impossible becomes possible…it did for me. God said…and so it happened.