“Fortunate are you to see what you see!”—Jesus said one day (Lk 10:23). The disciples who accompanied the Master during his public life are called by Luke witnesses of the events that have taken place among us (Lk 1:1-2). It is undeniable; they are blessed because they have seen. Among them, there is also Thomas.
Yet this experience was just the first stage of a demanding journey, one that had to bring them to faith.
Many who like them have seen have not come to believe. It’s enough to think of the “woes” pronounced by Jesus against the cities of the lake that witnessed the signs he performed and they did not convert (Lk 10:13-15). Seeing is the cause of bliss, but it is not enough.
After Easter, the Lord—who can no longer be seen by the material eyes—proclaims another beatitude: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” They are blessed if, by listening, they come to the same goal, the faith. To them Peter turns moving words: “You have not yet seen him and yet you love him; even without seeing him, you believe in him and experience a heavenly joy beyond all words” (1 Pet 1:8).
It is the joy assured to those who trust the Word, not that of people, but that of Christ, contained in the scriptures and given to the church by the apostles—as John reminds us in the conclusion of his Gospel.
To internalize the message, we repeat: “Blessed are we, though not having seen, believe.”
We Christians are convinced of being custodians of an excellent project, man and society. We are proud when they recognize that the moral proposition that we preach is noble and elevated.
We are pleased to be referred to as the messengers of universal brotherhood, justice and peace.
We have instead a certain reservation to present ourselves as witnesses of the resurrection, as bearers of the light that illuminates the tomb.
Sometimes one gets the impression that, in the same night of the Passover, during the homily, the preachers are a bit embarrassed to show the joy of Christ’s victory over death on their faces. Often, instead of talking about the Risen One, they delve on current topics that captivate more the attention of the assembly. They touch on serious, important social issues that need to be illuminated by the light of the gospel. However, on Easter Vigil, the community is convened to hear another announcement. It is gathered to celebrate and sing to the Lord of life for the unheard prodigy he has made in raising his Servant Jesus.
Tertullian, a Christian rhetorician of the first centuries, characterized thus the faith and life of the communities of his time: “The Christian hope is the resurrection of the dead; all that we are, we are so to the extent we believe in the resurrection.”
What distinguishes Christians from other people is not their heroic morality. Noble gestures of love are also done by non-believers who, without realizing it, are moved by the Spirit of Christ.
The world expects from Christians a moral life coherent with the gospel. However it first seeks the answer to the riddle of death and the testimony that Christ is risen and has transformed life on this earth in gestation and death into birth.
The urgency of a new life can be understood only by one who is no longer afraid of death because, with the eyes of faith, “he saw” the Risen One and cultivates in his heart the expectation that soon “the day breaks, and the morning star shines” (2 P 1:19).
To internalize the message, we repeat: “Every moment of our life is illuminated by the light of the Risen.”
The words with which John begins his letter are moving: “What we have heard and have seen with our own eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, I mean the Word who is Life… we are telling you of it” (1 Jn 1:1-3). His is an enviable experience, but unrepeatable. However, to become “witnesses” of Christ, it is not necessary to have walked with Jesus of Nazareth on the roads of Palestine.
Paul—who also did not know Jesus personally—is constituted a witness of the things he saw (Acts 26:16) and receives this task from the Lord: “As you have born witness to me here in Jerusalem, so must you do in Rome” (Acts 23:11).
To be a witness, it’s enough to have seen the Lord really alive, beyond death.
Witnessing is not to give good example. This is certainly useful, but the testimony is something else. This can only be given by one who passed from death to life; one who can confirm that his existence is changed and acquired meaning when it was illuminated by the light of Easter; one who has made the experience that faith in Christ gives meaning to the joys and sorrows and illuminates the joyful and sad moments.
Let’s ask ourselves: is Christ’s resurrection a constant point of reference in all the projects we do, when we buy, sell, dialogue, divide an inheritance, choose to have another child… or do we believe that the reality of this world has nothing to do with Easter? Anyone who has seen the Lord will do nothing more without him.
To internalize the message, we repeat: “If our heart open itself to the understanding of the Scriptures, we will see the Lord.”