To See is to Believe!

Sunday Gospel Reflection
2nd Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday)
John 20:19-31 | April 24, 2022

Joanne R. Bantang
Ministry of Lectors and Commentators

We often hear the expression “to see is to believe” especially when people find it hard to accept the truth of a piece of information. This is not surprising and in fact, empirical (e.g., being guided by evidence and data) and skeptical attitudes are identified as two of the characteristics that describe the nature of research [1]. Imbibing these characteristics seem reasonable and would serve a person well, most importantly, in these times where fake news proliferates and many of the information in the web and various social media platforms are not fact-checked, reviewed, or validated.

Jesus’ proclamation then that “Blessed are those who have not seen me, but still believe” (John 20:29) comes as a tall order for me, and maybe even for most of us in today’s generation. The apostles and other witnesses have lived long before us. The books in the bible where Jesus’ deeds were written so that people would come to believe are not necessarily regarded as historical facts. Having faith is often seen as contradictory to a scientific mindset. There are those who make me feel as if I’m closing my eyes to some truth just to accommodate my religion or my faith. These are the things that Catholics must contend with. These are the issues that we often need to confront with as scholars and/or scientists in a secular university.

For those who do not believe or find it unable or difficult to believe, particularly the teachings revealed through the Holy Spirit and the Church’s living tradition, it is tempting to use Pascal’s wager that can be rephrased as: It is better to live believing in God and learning upon death that there is none than living believing that there is no God and dying to learn that there is one. While it can be a persuasive argument, albeit a pragmatic reason, for believing in God, I agree with the idea that belief in God doesn’t really hinge on probabilities or rational evidence and people can always find arguments for or against God.

In times when I am confronted with questions about God’s existence from friends, how I wished that Jesus would appear like how he appeared to Thomas. Isn’t it so easy for God to do it? It seems like it’s the best approach to convince humanity. One proof is the number of people who flocked to witness the miracle in Fatima and to other pilgrim sites where miracles have happened. We often yearn for miracles to happen – either to convince ourselves or to convince others.

Today’s gospel, however, reminds us that we are blessed when we believe even though we have not seen. We are blessed when we see God even in the little things. I can’t help but think that every day, anywhere around the world, miracles do happen. God manifests to us in various ways – in the daily blessings that we receive, in answered prayers, through people’s acts of kindness or charity, or through the graces from the sacraments. Have you experienced the kind of happiness when you have answered prayers and you know that it happened not only because of your individual effort but because of God’s everlasting love? Have you experienced the relief after having received the sacrament of confession and the Eucharist not just because it’s psychologically relieving but because of God’s Divine Mercy? I feel so blessed when I experience those and for me, that happiness or relief is just a taste of how blessed we truly are!

[1] McMillan, J. & Schumacher, S. (2013). Research in education: Evidence-based inquiry. 7th ed. Essex: Pearson.

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