Summary: A reflection on the three kinds of faith emerging from the Liturgical Readings, which are meant, perhaps, to evaluate the condition of our own faith.
APRIL 5, 2002
·First Reading Acts 2:42-47
·Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
·Second Reading 1 Pt. 1:3-9
·Gospel Jn. 20:19-31
The Resurrection stands out forever as the mightiest and most impressive display of the LORD’s redeeming power, the significance of which is so great that it is beyond all human conception. Not only does it demand intellectual assent, but, more importantly, the element of Faith. Thus, we shall look at three kinds of faith emerging from our Readings, which are meant, perhaps, to evaluate the condition of our own faith.
Firstly, in the Book of Acts, Luke gives us the kind of faith resulting from an initial encounter with the LORD Jesus Christ, which is a period that can be likened to the aftermath of our Encounter and/or Life in the Spirit Seminar. This faith is young and vibrant, renewed and inclined towards the practice of charity. It first believes in order to understand, then undergoes basic formation, wherein the builders lay down its foundation. Thus, it needs to be nurtured and cared for, fed constantly by prayer, teachings, fellowship, sharing, and the Sacraments, which are the building blocks of faith and Community.
Secondly, in our Gospel, John gives us another kind of faith that struggles and doubts. Obviously, the Apostle Thomas is often associated with this faith. As opposed to the previous kind, this faith first seeks to understand in order to believe. It does not accept the truth on its face value but somehow wrestles with it. When this faith finally understands, believes and accepts the truth, however, it goes beyond the call of faith. For example, in the Raising of Lazarus (Jn. 11), Thomas, after having understood our Savior’s message and His call to faith, challenges the rest of the apostles not only to go with the LORD but also to die with Him (Jn. 11:16). In our Gospel Reading this evening, again, we have Thomas, who, after having examined the evidence, declares a statement that acknowledges not only the Resurrection but also the Divinity of Christ (Jn. 20:28). Noticeably, this kind of faith can be potentially powerful, but its potential is somewhat hampered by the need to see tangible evidence.
Finally, Peter gives us the kind of faith that is battle-tested and unperturbed by the many hardships of discipleship. This is the faith that is united with Hope and Love and guarded by the Peace of Christ. Fearless, formidable and unwavering, it is more precious than gold, tested by fire and rejoices in the midst of various trials. Such is the case with the early Christians who embraced death with outstretched arms rather than renounce the faith. St. Peter, himself, was no exception. Tradition records that he insisted to be crucified upside-down, convinced of his unworthiness to die similarly as our LORD. To this day, our brethren in many parts of the world who live the values of Christ and profess His LORDship face the wrath of persecution as their constant companion.
Dear friends, the faith of the Apostles is now the calling of our time. If there ever was a time to reaffirm our faith in Christ, it is now, when our Community, Church and Country are gripped in countless difficulties, to say the least. Although we do not face the prospect of death like the recipients of Peter’s letter, these concerns may cause us to waver in our faith and ultimately take our eyes away from the LORD due to anguish, shame, fear, anxiety, and anger. The Readings remind us, however, to firmly hold on to that faith, the foundation of which is our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ, Whose Resurrection establishes forever that He is imperishable, undefiled and unfading. It was the Risen LORD Who breathed unto the Apostles the Holy Spirit and empowered them to finish the race and to keep the faith. It was the Risen LORD Who strengthened the early Christians who were mercilessly used in the arena of beasts to entertain the Roman Empire. It is the Risen LORD alone Who can give peace that the world cannot give, enabling us to face the battles of life. In the words of Psalm 118:14, “The LORD is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.”
In response to the Word, let us consider the following directions:
1. Witness by demonstrating faithfulness to prayer, teachings, and fellowship and in sharing generously our resources (Acts 2:42, 45), particularly with the poor, ever mindful that faith without works is dead (Jam. 2:17, 22).
2. Increase devotion to the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which is the core and summit of our Catholic faith (CCC 1324-27).
3. Resolve misunderstandings within the global Community through dialogue and reconciliation (Jn. 20:23), while rejoicing in various trials (1 Pt. 1:6), confident that the LORD alone can bring peace in the bleakest of circumstances (Jn. 20:19, 21).