Deacon Steven M. Johnson – St. James, Belvidere, IL
Homily for Thursday within the Octave of Easter, Thursday, 4-8-21, Year B
READINGS: 1st Acts 3:11-26, Gospel Lk 24:35-48
Theme: Gift of Faith
I have often wondered why Jesus did not just appear to all people after His resurrection. If He did that then all people would believe and there would not have been the discussion about whether He was the Messiah or not. Why did He not just go right up to Caiaphas and say, “I AM” after His resurrection? Then the religious leader of all the Jews would proclaim Jesus as the Messiah. Problem solved, right?
Not necessarily. God, in His infinite wisdom, understands our fickle behavior and our need to be intrigued, spurred, contemplative, and to look forward to something in order to keep it in front of us. If all is revealed in an instant, people, over time, can begin to fade in their response to that event and eventually replace it with something else or a watered-down version of it.
God also knows that believing in something one has not seen or participated in or having any physical connection to takes an act of “Faith.”
Faith is defined by St. Paul in Hebrews (11:1) as, “the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.”
Faith takes an act of human will and a contemplation in hope of things to come. Faith is also an act of love we show God in knowing and trusting that He will provide and care for us. Faith also acts as our strength and guide in times of tribulation. We draw upon our faith in Christ to help us manage the trying times we must endure here on Earth.
If we relied on a physical, worldly encounter to do the same thing faith accomplishes, Christ would have to reveal Himself to every person, at every moment throughout all time as long as this world exists. There would be no act of human will to believe since it would be revealed every moment of our lives. This robotic knowledge is not what God asks of us, because it does not require a response from us back to Him.
In today’s first reading we see St. Peter teaching about having faith in something not seen in that it was not St. Peter himself but, rather, the faith of the cripple in Jesus (who is not there) that healed him. Peter knew to say this because earlier, per the Gospel, Jesus had exhorted His disciples to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins through their witness to Christ Himself and His Gospel message. The disciples are to go forth and build “faith” in Jesus among the people.
Faith builds a bond between us and God through Christ. We only need to look to the Gospel of John (20:29-31) in the story of the “doubting Thomas.” When Jesus says to Thomas after he touches the nail marks and the wound in His side and proclaims, “my Lord and my God,” and Jesus responds, “Have you come to believe because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
Your faith is a blessing and a sign of love for God. Build your faith, strengthen your relationship with Christ and be convinced that, as John’s Gospel (20:31-32) says, “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written down in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe (have faith) that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief (faith) you may have life in his name.”