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April 1996

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. (John 20:29)

These words can be found at the end of John's Gospel. As you probably know, Jesus was speaking to Thomas, the Apostle who was not there when the risen Lord appeared to his disciples for the first time. They told Thomas, "We have seen the Lord," (John 20:25) but because he found it difficult to believe, he came out with the words: "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails... I will not believe." (ibid.)

Thomas represents all those who, like him, receive the news of the resurrection not from Jesus directly, but through the witness of the apostles. In practice, he represents all the generations that come after the time of Jesus, and who find themselves in the position of having to believe without being able to see.

So then, it is to you, and to all of us who have faith in the Gospel, that Jesus directs this beatitude:

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.

Later on Thomas was fortunate enough to see Jesus. He was called to be his apostle and eye witness, and seeing the risen Jesus was something so strong for him that his faith was increased to the point that he no longer felt the need for 'proof'. From deep within him came those wonderful words which showed how deeply he had understood who Jesus was: "My Lord and my God". (John 20:28)

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.

What does Jesus want to teach you now with these words of his? He wants to instil in you, and in all those who have not lived near him, the conviction that you have all that the apostles had. Jesus wants to tell you that you are not less fortunate than those who saw him. In fact, you have faith and this is the new way of "seeing" Jesus, so to speak. Through faith you can draw near to him, understand him profoundly and meet him in the depths of your heart. Through faith you can discover him among two or three united in his name, (cf. Matt. 18:20) or in his Church where he is still present.

This faith of yours is founded on the witness of those who saw Jesus with their own eyes and which has been handed down through the centuries. But, although many centuries have passed, you have not become distanced from him.

Besides, before returning to the Father, Jesus prayed for the disciples he was leaving in the world and he thought of you too, when he said "I do not pray for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word." (John 17:20)

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.

Furthermore, these words of Jesus invite you to revive your faith and not to wait for proofs or signs in order to make progress in your spiritual life. Similarly, it encourages you not to have doubts about Christ's presence in your own life and in history, even if to you he seems far away.

With these words Jesus wants you to relax into the arms of God with living faith and trust. He wants you to believe in his love even if you find yourself in difficult situations or in circumstances that seem to make life impossible.

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.

Finally these words of Jesus invite you not to shut yourself inside your limited human way of thinking, not to let yourself be stopped by too much rationalising. His words invite you to accept what is beyond you, the great truths of faith like the mystery of God, of Christ and the resurrection.

Chiara Lubich

 

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