Faith: Believing is Seeing
You’ve heard the saying “Seeing is believing.” Today’s first reading seems to say just the opposite. You might think that when Jesus rose from the dead, everyone would see him. Then his friends would rejoice and those who had put him to death would repent (or run as fast as they could). Yet Peter says that he was only visible to some of the disciples. Jesus did not appear to Herod or Pilate or Caiaphas. The Pharisees and scribes did not see him, either. Even the disciples did not immediately see him. The first thing they saw was the empty tomb, with burial cloths lying on the ground. They may have thought that if his enemies had stolen Jesus’ body, they would not have removed the burial cloths; touching a corpse would have made them unclean.
So it seems the empty tomb helped them to believe, and believing enabled them to see the Lord. The exception to this may be Thomas, who said he would not believe until he saw and touched Jesus’ risen body. Yet when he does see the Lord, Jesus himself declares that believing is primary when he blesses those who have not seen but still believe (John 20:31). I used to think that Jesus was invisible to non-believers, but Mary of Magdala saw him, thinking he was the gardener. Then she believed and recognized him.
What does this mean for us? Jesus seems to be hidden again. Yet we say that he is present in the sacraments; baptism, Eucharist, and confirmation show that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit live in us. So perhaps we just need to believe in order to see him. Mother Teresa could do it. She said she was amazed at the love she felt when she saw Jesus in the poor and the dying people of Calcutta. St. Francis saw him not only in the poor but in all creation. Maybe we need to grow in faith so that we can see Jesus in the poor, the dying, the people who annoy us, even our enemies. That is why it is so important to spread the faith; if we don’t see Jesus in everyone, we may never have true peace.