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Blessed are those… by Fr. Joel


In the first reading we are told that many signs and wonders were performeddoubting_thomas1 by the apostles and many more people came to join them. The second reading is about John’s vision where he heard the voice of the Lord telling him to write what he saw. And when he caught sight of the son of man, he fell down out of fear and reverence to the Lord. But the Lord encouraged him not be afraid but to believe that he is alive and has the key to eternal life.

The gospel is about Thomas one of the apostles who was absent when Jesus appeared to the other apostles and he would not believe them that Jesus came unless he saw and touched Jesus himself. And when Jesus eventually came and showed him his hands, legs and side where the wounds were, and asked him to put his fingers in there, Thomas confessed saying, ‘’ My Lord and my God!’’  And Jesus said to him, ‘’Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed’’

There are many of us who still doubt just like Thomas did so long ago. Many of us want to see evidences and logical proof before we will believe in God. You hear some people say if God is good and loving why is there evil and suffering in life? For others if they don’t get what they want in life then there is no God. And for some the idea God is denying them their freedom to do what they want. That is quite unfortunate. Even with the many signs and wonders in our world that serve as evidence of the existence of God, many people cannot believe in him today.

Jesus said that blessed are those who have not seen but believed in him. It is because of this that we believe and do the things we do in our church. For instance, at the beginning of mass the priest greets the people with the same words of Jesus saying ‘’peace be with you.’’ That is how Jesus greeted his apostle each time he visit with them. Jesus also said, ‘’as the father sent me, so I send you.’’ He breathed on them and said, ‘’receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.’’ These we do in the Catholic Church. During ordinations of priests and Bishops this spirit of Christ is passed on to the newly ordained by the anointing and laying of hands. And they send forth to continue spreading the good news. In the sacrament of reconciliation the priests exercise the power of forgiving sins given here by Jesus to his apostles. Let me quickly say this, that priests are bound by confessional seal and cannot reveal whatever they heard from a penitent to anyone for whatever reason, even to a law enforcement agent or under the threat of death. In fact, we do not remember people’s sins after confession. As you leave the confessional your sins are wiped out and forgotten completely, both those confessed and those forgotten. So, reference is not to be made to them at all at any time. Please stop trying to make reference to the sins you confessed the last time you came to confession. Even if we try to  remember, it is not possible to do that because our brains are not like a computer memory that can remember everything and certainly no all the sins of all the people that have come to us for confession.

Another thing that we do in the church that is found from the readings of today is what John in the second reading did, falling to ground to give reverence to the Lord; and what Thomas in the gospel said, ‘’my lord and my God.’’ During consecration we all kneel down except the priest because he is acting in the person of Christ. And when the body and blood of Jesus is raised we all confess my Lord and my God.  Lastly, the very last part of the gospel reading said that not everything that Jesus did was written down, but these that we have are meant to help us believe in him as the source of eternal life. This helps to debunk the argument by some people that they must see everything in the bible before they can believe it. The church still receives revelations from God and she has the power to discern and know the will of God through prayers.

Therefore, cast away your doubts and believe Jesus the son of God, the author of eternal life. Open up your minds and hearts and allow Jesus to come into your life so that you can encounter him. Each time you come to mass know that you have come to worship and encounter Jesus in the entire liturgy from the greeting to the final blessings. Remember the church is not a movie theater or stadium for entertainment even though we could get some kind of entertainment in church but that is not the main reason for coming to church. We come to church to worship God as his family, to listen to him and carry this message to others out there. As the father sent me, I send you too to preach the kingdom of God and Jesus the author of life is truly risen from the death.