“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (John 20:29)

by Shiu Lan
Second Sunday of Easter

Acts 2:42-47

1 Peter 1:3-9

John 20:19-31

Let me share with you a heart-warming story to start this reflection. It was a sunny and beautiful afternoon during the pandemic. The Greater Toronto Area is closed for non-essential services but citizens can still walk around in their neighborhood while practicing social distancing. So I took a walk around to get some exercise and enjoy the light breeze and the sun. Then a little girl's tender voice caught my attention, "It's so warm outside!" There I saw a family of four, the young mother carried a baby in her arms and the dad, a picnic basket. I wondered where they could go for their picnic since the outdoor recreation areas and parks were closed. Anyway, I walked on. Then towards the end of my walk, I saw them again. They were picnicking in the front porch of another house, happily chatting away with people inside who kept the door open. They must be the grandparents of the little girl and the baby. I was so moved by the scene. It was such a creative way to visit people we care and bring hope and warmth, comfort and joy to each other during this difficult time.

In this Sunday's Gospel reading, we hear the famous story of the "Doubting Thomas". He refuses to believe that during his absence, Jesus has appeared to his fellow Apostles on the very evening of the day He rose from the dead. Not only does Jesus appear to them, He also sends them "As the Father has sent me" (Jn 20:21). He breathes on them the Holy Spirit that He has promised before His Passion, "I will ask the Father and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever" (Jn 14:16) and from then on, "the Helper, the Holy Spirit ... will teach you all things and remind you of all that I have told you" (Jn 14:26). He also gives them the power to forgive sins, "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (Jn 20:23).

After eight days, Jesus appears to the Apostles again, He invites Thomas to "Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe" . Thomas answered Jesus, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:27, 28).

What strikes me the most is at the end of the story when Jesus said, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe"(John 20:29). He is referring to us! To us who have not seen but believe, what St. Peter said in the Second Reading is inspiring, "Although you have not seen [Jesus Christ], you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice […] for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls" (1 Peter 1:8-9). Let us strive to live in the way that Jesus teaches us to stay worthy of this outcome of our faith!

This Easter, we rejoice in the Lord's Resurrection under the shadow of the pandemic, let us unite in prayer to pray for the world and for each other for His mercy and compassion. Jesus greets His Apostles with "Peace be with you" when He first appears to them after He is risen from the dead (Jn 20:19). He is walking with us and greeting us with the same words. Let us be patient, remain faithful in joyful hope and look for opportunities to love our neighbors as we go through this ordeal together.

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