Saturday of the Octave of Easter
The Appearance to the Disciples
Fr. Denny Lucas, SVD, in his homily (Bible Diary 2008), said: “A person can read the whole Bible, study the best of theologians and listen to the most persuasive of preachers without coming to faith.”
Today’s gospel passage contains only seven verses but it mentions ‘faith’ for four times. Particularly, Jesus scolds his apostles because of their unbelief and stubborn hearts. And so therefore let us reflect about faith. Jesus gives us the gift of faith to know Him more personally and to understand the mystery of His death and resurrection. But is faith something you ‘have’ or something you ‘do’? Many of us may think we have faith because we were born to Catholic parents who saw to it that we were baptized as infants. Faith doesn’t appear to be difficult because we use this so fluently and so often. But try to look at it and tell me what it means. If I ask no question about your answer, we may think the matter is clear but if I ask a second or a third question we are both in the depths. It is because our faith is unfathomable. It is a fact that God cannot be our ‘possession’ like we possess other things. It is the other way around, we are possessed by God.
Today is Saturday and we are about to end the first week of Easter. I will ask you to focus our attention to the mission that Christ has given to us as His Church. He says: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature,” (v.15). He commissions us first when we were baptized, later when we received the Sacrament of Confirmation and other moments more specifically to be the ones to go into the “whole world.” It is because we are not parasites that simply absorb the grace coming from God without any apostolic zeal. Our apostolic work is our ‘payment’ for the space that we have occupied in this world. We exist to evangelize. Somebody said that we pray so that we can give all of the received graces back to souls in the form of love: to our family and friends and all those people whom God may put in our path. Pope Benedict XVI gives us guidance too about being sent into the world and proclaimed the gospel. In his homily for the Conclusion of the Year of the Eucharist (Oct. 23, 2005), he says: “Eucharistic spirituality must be the interior motor of every activity and no dichotomy is acceptable between faith and life in the mission of spreading the spirit of Christianity in the world.”
But first we must believe in order to give witness and pass on the Gospel to others. There are obstacles to our own living of faith. One could be our pride. Like the disciples, they give little importance to Mary’s words that she had seen Jesus alive after His death because she is just a woman and noted for her demonized living and above all because of their pride. Other one could be self-pity that always closes us off from the openness of faith and therefore very few can reach us. In this sense only very few souls can be reached by us. And the other one is that our charity must have been gradually weakened. It is because when love fails, we become more attached to ourselves, to our own desires and less willing to trust. Do we make excuses or limit what we do to proclaim Christ to others?
At the end let us reflect too these words from St. Augustine. He said: “Faith is to believe what we do not see and the reward of faith is to see what we believe.”