In a world that refuses to accept reality until it is verified by the senses and empirical science, transcendence becomes passé, spirituality is useless and religion is empty. Doubting Thomas lives on until this time with his legacy of skepticism which refuses belief until proven by physical experience.
Whether we accept it or not, we are born natural skeptics! We do not want to appear naïve or credulous to other people and to simply believe in hearsays, unfounded stories, cheap gossips and unverified reports. In a way natural skepticism is healthy because it protects us from falling into the pit of the gullible but it has its own limitations. All of us are standing between the real world and the boundless mystery that beckons to be explored but our human limitations bow in humility to understand and capture the unknown.
Thomas as an Apostle and representing those men and women in the later generations demanded a proof: “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails and place my finger in his side, I will not believe.” When Christ appeared and agreed to Thomas’ condition, Thomas did not even dare to do the physical examinations, he said “My Lord and my God.” It was an expression of affirming both the humanity (my Lord) and the divinity (my God) of Jesus Christ. Now henceforth he would be representing all those peoples in later generations who without experiencing Jesus in the flesh will profess such profound faith. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
The belief in the Resurrection was not founded in the empty tomb but rather on the testimony of those who encountered the Risen Christ through the many resurrection stories which have been handed down through generations until they reached us and shaped our belief. The story of Thomas is the story of us all. We have moments of disbelief when we demand for proofs of the presence of God most especially in times of darkness and fear. Often times there are no proofs given other than the invitation for a leap of faith to embrace God in the realm of the unknown. We can never capture the sense of the mysticism and mystery of God unless we let go and simply believe like Thomas did!
Divine Mercy Sunday The celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday is not just about a devotion entrusted to St. Faustina and was made a universal feast of Pope John Paul II. Rather it brings us back to that mystical event on Calvary. When Jesus died and his breast was pierced with a lance, the heart of God was opened inviting all humanity to enter into the immensity of God's mercy. The Church was born from the heart of Jesus beneath Calvary! Mary and John representing the Church which was now the New Humanity, received the two great sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist symbolized by the water and blood that flowed from the heart of Jesus. But only those who profess their belief, like Thomas, can enter into the heart of God and bask in the unfathomable mercy of God.
Lord’s baptism is revelatory in nature.It revealed who Jesus was through the manifestation of the Father and
the Holy Spirit which we call “Trinitarian theophany”. It happened before Jesus
embarked on his public ministry. The same manifestation would occur again
towards the end of the public ministry of Jesus in the Transfiguration.
Between these two theophanies was Jesus’ proclamation of God’s Kingdom through his words and works.
his baptism before his public ministry, Jesus was affirmed by the Father of his
identity: “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.” As
we enter into the simplicity of this season, we are also reminded of the
profound reality of our true identity given to us when we were baptized: an adopted child of God.During our baptism the Father was saying to
us personally “You are my beloved child, with you I am well pleased.”
It was important to Jesus to accept his
identity which would be the reservoir of his power during his public
ministry. During his intimate moments with his Father in prayer, Jesus
would go back again and again to that special moment when he heard his Father’s
voice. In fact he needed to hear the same voice again during the
Transfiguration before he could carry on the most painful days of his earthly
During this ordinary season, like Jesus
we carry in our hearts the Father’s voice so that whatever happens to us this
year, we believe that the Father will always be there for us the way he was
with Jesus all the time. It means that we are ready to accept the
different theophanies of God in our life. We welcome him as he manifests
himself to us in life or in death, in pain or in joy, in the sunshine or in the
rain, in light or in darkness, in good times and in bad. These are the
many facets of life which reveal to us the many faces of God. We just
have to be ready to accept his creative surprises in our life.
Our baptism is both a gift and a responsibility.
As a gift, we have become adopted children of God!We call him our Father and we are heirs of the Kingdom! As a
responsibility, we witness a Christian life, a life which is patterned after Jesus, his Son.
As a child of God, I am God’s
beloved! It is my greatest identity!
Epiphany is the unfolding of God’s
presence; it is the manifestation or the unveiling of the face of God!
God first made manifest his presence
through creation which we call the vestiges or the imprints of the
Trinity.It was God’s first epiphany! It was the outpouring of God's charity!
When Jesus was born, God made manifest
not just his imprints but his very face when he showed himself again to save creation by becoming a
creature himself. Through this epiphany, Jesus showed that his was the face
of mercy! This time it was the outpouring of God’s mercy!
God offered Himself as a gift. How
did people respond to such a magnificent gift? The Israelites sneered and
rejected the gift; they would not even give him a room! Like the Israelites,
Herod did not just reject the gift but he did all he could to destroy it. The
magi who represented the Gentiles left their homes in search of “something
greater than themselves”. The star guided them in their journey.
(Those who honestly search for the meaning of life will always be guided by the
disguised presence of God be it through the persons they meet on the way or
through simple objects or even through insignificant events. Some of the
stars in our lives fade away in oblivion, we may even forget their names but
they continuously shine brightly in our hearts.) The magi offered the
baby their gifts; they searched for Jesus not to ask but to give gifts to him!
The next persons who saw first the face
of God were the shepherds because they were simple and pure of heart.
Like the magi, they were the first ones to proclaim the Word made flesh.
In the simplicity of their wisdom, they became the first prophets of the
Incarnation. Those who encounter God can not but become “evangelizers of
the Word” not only by preaching but in the witnessing of their ordinary
But the very first receivers of God’s
gift were Mary and Joseph; they were given the singular gift of gazing for the very
first time the face of God.One day, it
would break Mary’s heart to see that face again covered with blood.
Mary would have to give that gift to others as a supreme offering for to
withhold the gift is to perish. She teaches us that the supreme joy of
receiving will lead to the excruciating pain in giving. That is the true
essence of a gift.
God’s greatest gift is himself! He gives it through
many creative and unexpected ways, often in great surprises!