Believe – See
The Fifth Sunday of Lent (Jn 11:1-45)
By Joseph Viet, O.Carm.
Translated into English by Bauhinia
Today, I’d like to invite you to analyze two aspects of the same reality: BELIEVING.
The first is easy for us to apply in our life: Seeing then Believing. Let’s take some examples. When I see you go to church and receive the Sacraments. I believe that you are Christian. When someone gives you a gift out of their good intention for you, you believe that person cares for you. When a person buys a luxurious car, one can believe that he may be rich. After a long time of serious discernment, a couple comes celebrate their wedding in the Church and vows their fidelity to each other, we believe that they love each other and want to dedicate their own life to each other. And so on…
Now, let’s move on the second aspect of BELIEVING. But first of all, I would like to invite you to read one detail in the Gospel today: When Lazarus passed away, Jesus came to visit and console his two sisters Martha and Mary. Then he told Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She replied: “Yes, I do!” Then, when they were at Lazarus’ tomb, Jesus said: “Take away the stone.” Martha said to him: “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” Right away, Jesus said to her: “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?”
Dear friend, here is the second aspect, a more profound one, that I would like to explore with you: Believing then Seeing. Anything profound requires us to be quiet, to keep calm, to look with care and attentiveness, to open wide our hearts and to even turn the issue upside down to grasp it. Please take a moment to look at some following simple examples:
First, when we were children, our parents sometimes implemented some disciplines that we didn’t like too much because they were kind of “uncomfortable”. However, it would be hard to understand and accept a saying like “Spare the rod and spoil the child” if we didn’t first believe that we were so loved by them and what they did was aimed for our good future. When we “believe” our parents’ love for us, then we will “see” the meaning of their strict disciplines.
Second, it is one of our daily practices that we let God’s Word to guide our thoughts, words and deeds. Thanks to this practice that we become what we are today. Generally, before feeling and seeing the wonderful effect of God’s Living Word, we need to “believe” that it is the great spiritual resource for us. It is this believing that helps us listen to, love and practise God’s Word in our everyday which leads us then to “see” the benefits. On the contrary, if we didn’t believe it that way, Scripture would only be considered a great literature and wouldn’t have much influence on our life. Fortunately, many generations have followed this way so that we enjoy a generally good world as of today.
Third, let’s talk about the celebration of the Blessed Sacrament. If we didn’t believe in the true presence of Jesus Christ for us, the Sacrament might be just a religious symbol like any other symbol. We would suffer the consequence of this disbelief because we don’t feel the intimate presence of God right in our up-and-down life. We would miss a wonderful opportunity to be nourished by “the divine food” which cannot be compared with any other food on earth. In short, “believe” in his loving presence, we will “see” the wonder of the Body of Christ.
Fourth, I’d like to retell a little bit the life story of my doctor friend of whom you have known recently. At least three times, his doctors gave up their hope on his survival, but he “revived” to their amazement. Before undergoing his highly risky surgeries, he “believed” and offered his life to the Divine Providence. When he was in comas, a lot of people including you, were in unity of prayers for him with a firm trust in God. As a result, we have seen the effect of our belief. Today, he can walk and lead a normal life. “Believe” first, then we will “see”!
There are other similar examples around us, feel free to add your own here!
We remember what Jesus said to Thomas after He had arisen from the dead: “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”(John 20:29) Why are we blessed when we have not seen, but have believed? Because once we have believed, we will see a lot of wonders beyond our imagination. Then the important thing here is to live His Word: “I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can move mountains…” (Mt 17:20)
Dear friend, we are approaching the Event that has changed the human history in general and our life in particular: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ that opens up for us the future of the eternal life. The Word of the Lord is still echoing in our mind: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” For our own sake, may we wisely respond with confidence: “Yes, Lord. I truly do!“