Second Sunday of Easter

Beyond Proof

First Reading : ( Acts 4:32-35 ): The believers held everything in common.
Second Reading : ( 1 Jn 5:1-6 ) : Our faith in God brings victory over the world.
Gospel : ( Jn 20:19-31 ) : Jesus appeared to the Apostles and Thomas
Chinese classics:
“If Heaven had wished to let this cause of truth perish, then I, a future mortal, should not have had such an involvement with that cause. While Heaven does not let the cause of truth perish, what can the people of Kuang do to me?”(1)
- Why study the books of the sages?”(2)

“Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe!” (Jn 20:29)

What is referred to here as 'believing without seeing' does not mean to follow blindly, nor does it refer to superstitious belief. It really refers to a faith which far exceeds proof, visions or the senses. 'Seeing' does not necessarily result in faith. During the time of Jesus, those who 'saw' Jesus were quite numerous, but not everyone believed in him. Many people even opposed him. That was why Jesus, with deep emotion, said, “The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.”(Jn 13:18)

Even those who had seen Jesus perform miracles did not necessarily have deep and lasting faith in him. Look at the crowd who welcomed Jesus enter Jerusalem and the crowd who called out “let him die on the cross,” were not many of them the same people? On the one hand, they had just welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem, on the other hand they loudly shouted for his crucifixion. There is a well-known Western song called Fickle Lady. Actually, most human beings are fickle, perhaps including you and me!

Jesus rose from the dead. Those who had not believed in him remained the same. They did not change their mind even after Jesus had risen. On the contrary, they bribed the soldiers and told them to spread rumours, saying that it was Jesus' disciples who stole his body (see Mt 28:13). Who would have imagined that those whose hearts were already hardened would harden their hearts even more when they had concrete 'proof'! Therefore belief does not necessarily require proof. Our everyday lives are filled with beliefs that go beyond the evidence of our senses.

For instance, in the marriage covenant, people promise that 'in good times or bad, in sickness or health', they would care for each other until death. Don't they also have a certain amount of heroism and chivalry, willingly agreeing to 'enter the dragon's lake and the tiger's den' i.e., take the risk of great danger? As for parents who invest large amounts of resources, time, energy and love, in their children's future, what assurance do they have that their children will repay them? Why are those who have intimate friends not afraid that one day one might be betrayed? All these situations go beyond proof; they are examples of 'believing without seeing.' There is no need for proof in order to believe.

If we really require proof about Jesus or God, there is such proof in the church itself and in our own hearts. The majority of the early Christians found their faith in the Christian community, “The whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common... there was not a needy person among them.” (Acts 4:32-34) They also frequently gathered together with great joy 'for the breaking of bread,' and for praying and eating together. They were a happy, lively, enthusiastic group of people, united by their faith. They were a resurrected community, and though they 'did not see him,' they experienced Christ's real presence, the presence of the risen Christ in their midst.

Another kind of proof lies in our hearts. Actually, those who have faith already have a certain tendency to believe. They appreciate life, they marvel at nature, they affirm their own identity as the noblest of all creatures. They have a sense of the non-material, the world of the spirit. What faith requires is that we should affirm and nurture our faith and make every effort to cultivate it further.

If we spend a little more time looking at the sky closely with admiration, or when with deep emotion we find ourselves in the depths of nature, do we not feel the presence of God? When we serve others with love, do we not think of Christ? When, urged on by our ideals and faith, we are committed to a meaningful task, do we not feel that God is with us and we are working for Him? Before the Blessed Sacrament, or after receiving Holy Communion, or when reading Scripture, if we are willing to spend a little more time to activate our faith to a greater awareness of God’s presence, would we not become more and more alerted to God's presence in us?

Once, the people of Kuang misunderstood Confucius and made things very difficult for him. Confucius calmly said, “If Heaven had wished to let this cause of truth perish, then I, a future mortal, should not have had such an involvement with that cause. While Heaven does not let the cause of truth perish, what can the people of Kuang do to me?”(1) What he meant was if heaven wants to destroy the Chinese culture, I, a 'future mortal' would not be able to touch, understand or accept that culture. But since I have understood, accepted, and been touched by this culture, it is clear 'proof' that heaven does not want to destroy it. This being the case, what can the people of Kuang do to me?

Confucius did not need any proof before working hard for his country and his people. His moral character and intellectual capacity were proof enough from heaven. “Why should we study the books of the sages?”(2) What he had learned came from teachers who had taught him and from following the way of heaven above. He felt he should continue to spread the cultural heritage that heaven had handed down to him.

Our heart has strength beyond our imagination! Let us deliberately develop it!

(1)天之將喪斯文也,後死者不得與於斯文也;天之未喪斯文也,匡人其如予何?
(2)讀聖賢書,所學何事?