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My Lord and My God

Clergy Corner by Fr. Robert Falabella

We are acquainted with the phrase “seeing is believing.” However, when you reflect on this expression, we may question whether such an expression has anything at all to do with “believing,” since if you are “seeing” then what is there to believe? “Seeing” as to with the eyes -- a physical faculty of the body, while “believing” deals with a spiritual faculty of the soul. Thus, when we drive on a highway,  implicit is our “faith” that we will not be a victim of a drunk driver. We have no physical proof about this until we have safely arrived back home. Our interim of travel was dependent on that spiritual faculty called “faith” -- a form of knowledge -- otherwise we would not have ventured out of our home.

When the Apostle Thomas made the condition for his “believing that Jesus had risen from the dead” rest upon his “physically” seeing and touching the risen Body of Jesus; faith knowledge would not have been involved in that physical encounter. For “faith” to be involved in this case, it would mean Thomas accepting the earlier words of Christ about His impending Resurrection as well as the words of the witnessing Apostles about their personal experience with the Risen Christ -- neither of which was acceptable to Thomas. Only when Thomas actually saw, did he exclaim: My Lord and My God. The response of Jesus, however, indicates He was not pleased with Thomas’ act of faith. “BECAUSE you have seen, Thomas, you have believed; BLESSED are they that have not seen and have believed” (Jn 20:29). We arrive at this conclusion from ascertaining HOW Thomas expressed those words “My” Lord and My God. This is done by noting the difference in emphasis between a nominative case adjective of possession “my” and a genitive case of possession “of me” -- as found in the Greek text -- a strong sense of personal possession -- in the sense of “you belong to me ON MY TERMS.”

Faith, however, is a necessary condition if one is to enter into the mystery of ourselves and a loving relationship with God -- as revealed to us in Holy Scripture. For example: “God so loved the world that He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

Among examples of belief in Jesus, as set down in Scripture, is one found in Mk 5: 28-34, where a woman, afflicted with a long term blood problem, believed that if she but touched the garment of Jesus she would be cured; she did so and was cured. Jesus exclaimed that someone had touched Him, since He felt “power go out from Him” -- God’s response to an authentic act of faith, free of any conditions we might impose (as did Thomas) in which we are strengthened in the grace of Christ’s presence.

In the Eucharist, we confront this very mystery of the glorified risen Body of Jesus Christ. Recall the words of Jesus: “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will not have everlasting life in you” -- meaning to share in the mystery of the Incarnation is where God came into our human nature to enable us to enter into His Divine life -- as made manifest in the words of Jesus Christ: “…he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them and said, ‘Take it; this is my body’…he took a cup, gave thanks, he said to them, ‘this is my blood of the covenant which will be shed for many…’” (Mk 14: 22-24).

Each time, then, we approach Holy Communion, there is being presented the mystery of the glorified risen Body of Christ. Do we say in a similar way Thomas’ original expression “MY Lord and MY God” in the sense of the Eucharist being looked upon by an unbelieving world as simply a SYMBOL -- accepting the Eucharist then ON MY TERMS which echoes THAT OF AN UNBELIEVING WORLD? Or do we approach the Eucharist as that woman approached Jesus in the Gospel -- with an unconditional faith -- such that Christ could affirm its effect as found in His words “power has gone out of me” whose equivalent is in our reception of the Holy Eucharist where we receive on God’s Word the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ -- that awesome power that has gone out from Him into us.

The implications of this is brought out in the Church’s Liturgical prayer at Mass before receiving the Holy Eucharist: “May the reception of the body and blood of Christ be not a JUDGMENT and CONDEMNATION, but rather a protection of body and soul and a healing remedy.” What is this Judgment and Condemnation? -- to receive the Eucharist as but a symbol --thereby rejecting the WORD of God and the Divine Mystery contained in the Eucharist as simply a mere symbol as professed by an unbelieving world!! But when received with the supernatural virtue of faith, the Eucharist becomes for us “a protection of mind, body and soul, enabling us to exclaim with St. Paul: “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20), and assuring us that the “heavenly Father will see and love in us what He sees in His Son” (Preface Prayer at Mass).

“Although you have not seen him, you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him; you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1Pt 1:8-9).

 

Tags: Clergy Corner, Fr. Robert
 

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