“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.”