The WORD in Other Words by Fr Bobi Scholz SVD (Holland)
Sunday in the Octave of Easter
Often Christians are simply called believers. The core of being a Christian is believing in Jesus Christ and living that faith. Easter highlights faith.
Every Easter season we read the Gospel of the unbelieving Thomas who in the end confessed his faith in the Risen Jesus: “My Lord and my God.” Listening to the Gospel has only one aim: “That you may believe.” How did Thomas come from doubt to faith? Jesus explains: “You believe because you have seen.” Seen, that is, he had the spectacular experience of touching and seeing Jesus alive. Others have also seen, e.g. in that their prayers were granted through a miracle. But Jesus right away adds that there are other ways. “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
This is the ordinary way to faith, the way of most of us. For instance, reliable witnesses, our parents, have told us, or we have met strong and happy people who are believers, and so we, too, believe. Or, reflecting deeply on everything in my life, I am convinced that “God is real; he loves me.” Believing “without seeing,” that is without microscope or telescope or spectacular events. But having eyes of faith, “as if we could see the invisible.”
Faith is a journey, beset by difficulties and trials. Thomas took the step from unbelief to faith. If you find it hard to believe, take at least a first step. Mother Teresa once indicated the following steps to faith: Silence leads to prayer; prayer leads to faith. We can start anywhere, even if we can only shout: “Are you there, God?”
Faith is like “walking on water,” which was the title of a video on prayer and faith. Sometimes the difficulty comes from outside, for instance persecution of believers. That happened to San Lorenzo Ruiz. Or an indifferent atmosphere stifles faith. But most often trials of faith come from within ourselves.
Thomas doubted. We may put our faith aside, because we feel tired, disappointed or lazy to live it. At times, we doubt whether faith is worth all the effort. Do we get anything out of faith? Does it have any value? The last phrase of the Gospel says Yes. “Through faith you have life.” Faith enables us to master our life and reach the unending happy life.
Faith gives courage and endurance. It makes life worth living. Saint Arnold Janssen, a simple priest and great promoter of world mission is described as “humble in success, strong in trials.” He was such because he was a man of faith. Blessed, indeed, are those who believe!