REFLECTION | ‘Blessed are those who have not seen but believe’

April 23, 2017 - 7:30 AM
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Reflection file photo by Bernard Testa/InterAksyon.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgive them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Pease be with you.”

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger hare and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”

Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
—John 20: 19-31

In the Church calendar, it is the Sunday of the Divine Mercy, the octave of Easter. The Easter season stretches till the solemnity of Pentecost. The gospel narrates the post- resurrection events where Jesus had appeared and talked to his disciples who were so afraid and insecure as their master was no longer with them.

Then the Risen Christ greeted them in peace: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

Then, He gave them the authority and mandate to continue their tasks with the instruction: And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgive them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” The apostles continued the tasks given to them by Christ in the Holy Spirit.

The apostles and disciples preached Christ, taught about the Kingdom of God, cured the sick, sent out demons in the name of Jesus. They called and anointed new disciples in the different places, all praise the same Christ and built communities.

That was the beginning of the Church, it was an apostolic Church with Jesus as its foundation. The accounts of the early Christians (followers of Christ) are best described in the Acts of the Apostles, in the Pauline Letters and in the Catholic Letters. There were also “doubters” like Thomas, the Didymus at the very start of the Church but they were converted fully in Jesus and believed him.

“Blessed are those who have not seen but believed,” was Jesus’ message to Thomas and to others who doubted Jesus and his words. This are also his words to us today. Every time we doubt God’s love and mercy, we are like Thomas. Every time we are not sure of God’s loving presence in our lives, we are like Thomas and the other doubting disciples.

“My Lord and my God!” were Thomas’ only words. And Jesus told Thomas: “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

We may not have seen the Lord through our naked eyes, but we can see him through our hearts. Today, we continue to give the same declaration as Thomas, “My Lord and my God!”

The disciples stood their ground and stood witness to Jesus as Lord and God throughout centuries. The Church carried that witness and mandate after Jesus had breathed the Spirit to them. The disciples went to all corners of the world to preach about the kingdom through the workings of the Holy Spirit.

From the apostles, the elders of the Church continued proclaiming the good news through its elders of the Church (episcopoi now called bishops), the presbyteroi (now called priests), the diakonoi (now called deacons) and the many preachers and servers of the Church. They fulfill what the mandate of the Risen Christ had asked them to do with zeal and devotion.

Prayer:
Almighty and Ever-living God, we thank you for giving us life, for bringing us back to life through the resurrection of Jesus. As we are restored to life, you appeared and assured your disciples that you are always with them until the end of time. Today, you still accompany us in our day-to-day living with all our hopes and struggles. We believe that we only can live when we are with you and your are in us. In your mercy, bless us and lead us to the right path. This we ask through Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Lord Jesus of the Divine Mercy, have mercy on us.

Intention:
Let us pray for all the hopeless and the lost, the discouraged and the confused. May the Risen Christ in His mercy touch their hearts and give them hope so they may rise again and live again in the love of God.