I’ll Believe It When I See It
This past week, Patty Duke, the actress who starred in the movie, “The Miracle Worker” died at the age of 69. In this story of the life of Helen Keller, Patty portrayed the young girl who had been born deaf and blind from birth, and it showed the struggle of her teacher to help her make sense of the world, learn to communicate and envision, and live a life of purpose. With love and perseverance, the message finally breaks through, and though Helen never PHYSICALLY sees, she is given a VISION of the world around her. She has been quoted as saying, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be SEEN or even touched…. they must be felt with the heart.”
I am sure that you have heard these words, “I’ll believe it when I see it!” On this second Sunday of Easter, the shouts of “Christ is risen INDEED, ALLELUIA!’, and the sounds of the joyful bells are still fresh in our minds. The joy of the Resurrection, and the hope of New Life are still fresh, but all around us we continue to see tragedy, violence, the absence of tolerance and love, and it is sometimes hard to hang onto that joy. When we continuously see a world with little justice or peace or compassion, it can be very hard to believe in what we do not SEE. This is the paradox of faith, and in today’s Gospel, Thomas is honest enough to admit that, after all that had happened to Jesus, he has trouble believing the other disciples when they tell him that “they have seen the Lord!” Even though he had vowed to die with Jesus just a few days before, now he is skeptical, filled with confusion and fear, and he could not make sense of what had happened.
In my own life, it seems that the older I get, the more things I simply do not understand… after being raised with the idea that you do not question, but simply and blindly accept that things are the way you are told, I began to equate faith with blind acceptance. As I grew older, many things just did not add up, and I felt guilty for questioning authority or even God. So, when Thomas clearly states that “unless I see the marks in his hands, and put my fingers in those wounds, I will NOT believe!” I can relate.
We are left to wonder if, because he questioned and doubted his friends account, does that mean that he had NO FAITH? It is then that we are faced with the fact that, like us, Thomas was human, and he somehow wanted proof.
Instead of being disappointed and chastising Thomas, Jesus appears again and says simply, “Peace be with you.” Jesus understands this part of humanity… the part where we become fearful and have problems trusting completely. With that kind of compassionate love and patience, Jesus gently comes and shows Thomas his physical wounds, and Thomas finally calls out, “My Lord and My God!”
Martin Luther King once said that “Faith is taking the first step even when you do not see the entire staircase.” So much of life is this way, and BELIEF in something you cannot see requires VISION… the ability to see beyond what is, and then to act as if it is so.
There is an anonymous poem that was found in a tunnel near one of the concentration camps, and it was scratched onto a wall by a victim of the Holocaust– a place where faith, belief, and resurrection would surely seem to be missing. It reads:
“I Believe in the Sun, even when it isn’t shining,
I believe in Love, even when there’s no one there.
And I believe in God, even when he is silent.”
For us today, being able to show compassion can often be difficult. It may be hard to show mercy and love because we cannot SEE in the darkness. It can be hard to have faith in people who are different, to politicians who speak harsh words, and to show the love and mercy of the Risen Christ, but that is exactly the kind of life we are called to live… the kind of life that Jesus embodies.
There are 3 other verses to the poem I quoted earlier:
“I believe in miracles, I believe in Light
I believe there can always be a way.
I believe that nothing is impossible, I believe that nothing is impossible
That all things are possible with God.”
For each of us today, when the darkness seems to surround the world, we can still shout out that “The Lord is risen, indeed! Alleluia”. We can hold fast to the Vision of the Resurrection, and carry that Vision to the rest of the world around us. Is it always easy? NO, but we CAN be Christs’ example here in the world that so desperately needs to hear this message of Hope and Love.