Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Seeing is believing!
Experience would have us believe that this is an infallible guide to acceptance; although with today's computer wizardry and Steven Spielberg's imagination, one wonders; not to mention David Copperfield, master illusionist. For the Apostles and the first followers of Christ, however, seeing the Risen Christ was the proof they needed to restore their shattered spirits.

Acts 10:34, 37-43: By now, Peter's denial of Christ is history. In the same way, the horrible experience of Christ's passion and death is history.‚‚  Peter is now gripped by a new reality. He and his associates have "seen the Risen Lord". Their faith in Christ is now rock solid.

Colossians 3: 1-4: Paul uses the resurrection of Christ as a stepping stone to the ultimate level of Christian belief - the immortality of the human soul.

John 20: 1-9: For Mary of Magdala, the empty tomb meant one thing - the disaster of Christ's death was compounded by the disappearance of His body! The restoration of her faith came with a later encounter with the risen Christ. Peter and John, however, saw the empty tomb and the folded clothes and quickly understood that the scriptural prophecies had been fulfilled - Christ, the Anointed One, had risen! Their conclusions were soon justified when the Risen Christ appeared to them.

Point 1: Throughout the whole of his gospel, John stresses the relationship between "seeing" and "believing". Regularly he points out that the people who heard Christ and saw the signs that He performed, did not understand what He was on about. They saw the multiplication of the loaves and fish, but they did not understand the lesson of the sign. [John 6:36] "But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe". Even the chosen apostles did not grasp the full purpose of Christ's existence. [John 14:8] Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Probably the greatest sceptic was Thomas, who stubbornly refused to believe until he saw with his own eyes and physically touched the Risen Jesus. [John 20:25] So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe." A few days later, he was faced with this opportunity, and we all know his response "My Lord and my God". We also know well the Lord's reply -[John 20:29] Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." And this brings us to our situation. What do we believe? And why do we believe it?

Point 2: At the very foundation of Christian practice is the belief that Christ resurrected from the dead. On that belief we have fashioned our understanding that life is but a preparation for death; but not death in the sense that it is the end. Rather do we see death as a transition from one level of life to another in which we shall experience life in its fullness - whether it is full joy or full sorrow depends on us. The preface for the Funeral Mass expresses this thought clearly - in death life is changed not taken away. Throughout the scriptures Christ constantly referred to the fact that He had come from the Father and that He would return to the Father. The purpose of His life and death was to give everyone an opportunity to share that life in its fullness. For Him, as for us, death was but the gateway to rebirth. His death was necessary if He were to resurrect, just as it is for us if we are to achieve our final destiny.

Conclusion: The celebration of Easter renews our profound conviction that human existence with all its elements of disappointment, frustration, sorrow and failure, has within it the seeds of new life; of new hope that it is possible to share Christ's triumph over death and evil. Despite the presence of so much evil, there is hope for something better. That is why we believe. The more we believe that, the more likely it is to happen.

Scriptural reference: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time...In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials.[1 Pet 1:3]