Acts 2:42-47; 1Pt 1:3-9; John 20:19-31
Somebody, a priest said that supposed we called you up to the lectern and blindfolded you. Supposed we placed a water bucket in front of you and asked you if it was empty or full. What are three ways you can learn the answer to the question without removing the blindfold?
One way is to reach into the bucket and feel if there is water in it. In other words, you can experience firsthand information if the bucket is full or empty. This way of learning is called experiencing. It’s knowledge that we acquire by firsthand experience. It’s knowledge that our senses give us.
The second way to learn if it contains water is to drop an object, like coin, upon it. If the object hits the bottom of the bucket with a loud or ringing sound, you know the bucket is empty. On the other hand, if the coins hits with a slurp or a splash, you know the bucket contains water. This way of acquiring knowledge is called reasoning.
A third way to learn if the bucket contains water is to ask someone you trust. The person could look into the bucket and tell you if it has water on it. This way of learning is called believing. It’s knowledge that we acquire by faith.
Experiencing, reasoning and believing, these are the three ways we acquire knowledge in this life.
Now consider a second question. Of the three ways of acquiring knowledge, by which way do we learn most of our knowledge? Do we learn by experiencing things with our senses, by reasoning about them with our minds or by believing them with our hearts? If you said believing, you’re absolutely right. We acquire most of our knowledge by believing what others tell us. Some experts estimate that we learn as much as 80 percent of our knowledge in this way.
For example, few of us have traveled around the world. The only way we know about, most countries is by what others tell us. In other words, we trust the people who have been there. If they tell us there is a country called East Timor and that its people do this or do that, we believe them.
What is true of the way we acquire regular knowledge is even truer of the way we acquire religious knowledge. Most of our religious knowledge comes to us by believing what the Scriptures tell us. In other words, most of our religious knowledge comes by believing.
This Second Sunday of Easter is called the Doubting Thomas Sunday, because the gospel that we use every year during this Sunday is about Thomas who doubted about the resurrection of Jesus when his companions told him about the event.
St. Thomas the apostle is one of the chosen twelve disciples of Jesus to be His apostles. Throughout his life, he always believed in Jesus. He did not miss attending to the teachings of Jesus. He lost hope when the source of his inspiration, the light of his life was nailed on the cross and died. So, when his companion said that his inspiration was raised from the dead, in the first place, he did not believe. Rather, he said: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands and that my finger into the nail marks and put my hands into His side, I will not believe,” (v.25). In other words, a firsthand experience or ‘to see is to believe.’
Anyway, what we can learn from St. Thomas, according to the homily of Bishop Soc Villegas, DD (and I will add some even if I’m not worthy) is first, not to do what he did. What he did was he left the group. The other ten, even if they are sad of the death of Jesus, banded together except St. Thomas. He detached himself from the group. That is why when Jesus appeared to the group, St. Thomas was not able to enjoy Christ’s presence. So, when we are sad or are discouraged of our church leaders and other groups, we should not detach ourselves from the Christian community, the church. The presence of Christ always comes within our Christian community.
The second thing is: St. Thomas was sincere. He did not understand what is happening, so he did not presumed that he knew everything. He could not grasp it fully that a person died and come back to life. He taught us a lesson that if we do not understand, then, let us humbly, honestly and sincerely accept the fact that we do not know and understand, so we ask others to explain it to us.
The third thing that we can learn from St. Thomas is we need inspirations in order to make our life more meaningful. All of us need inspirations; it may be people or an event, in order to be strong and to continue serving Him.
Even myself I have inspirations in order to strengthen my vocation as a priest. There are seven of them:
One is my family. They are at the background and the people could hardly notice them, but they give me encouragement, protection and freedom especially my parents. They nurture my spiritual and social life. They taught me so many things about life.
Two is my vocation as a priest. I can choose marriage and can be happy now. But I am happier today as a priest I could serve Him without limitation and with freedom. I can give my time, talent and treasure without anyone to look back.
Three is the people. They are my inspiration. Without them, I’m not a priest now. They allow me to serve them.
Four is the word of God. Somebody had said: “The Holy Bible teaches me the best way of living, the noblest way of suffering and the most comfortable way of dying.” The word of God is my guide until the last moment of my life. The Lord said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t be stumbling throughout the darkness for the living light will flood your path,” (Jn: 12).
Five is prayer. Prayer is the mightiest power on earth. Prayer’s power has been proven many millions of times. I’m sure you are witnesses of how powerful prayer is in your daily living. Through the power of prayer, there are cases of illnesses that the doctor found them hopeless is healed. Even myself, I can testify.
Six is the sacraments especially the Holy Eucharist. The body and blood of Christ is my strength everyday.
Seven is Jesus Himself. He is my inspiration above all. I would rather give up everything but not Him because he said: “Even when temptations comes…’I am with you always till the end of the world.’”
The last thing that we can learn from St. Thomas is after he knew and understood that great event he went all the way even unto death in following Jesus Christ.
I hope that when everything becomes clear to us, we can also give ourselves to the Lord all the way.
See Today’s Readings: Cycle A