Evangellii Gaudium the joyful news. He has risen!
The darkness has been broken by the light of Christ, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all”. “ We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our own eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life” John keeps reminding us that the word became flesh.
When my children would come to tell me what they had seen and heard, I would say show me. It’s not that I didn’t believe their testimony I needed to see and understand what they were talking about.
I am reminded of Phillip saying to Nathaniel, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” You remember what Nathaniel said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” and Phillip said come and see. Nathaniel will have to encounter Jesus so that he will have a testimony for others. It is Nathaniel’s skepticism that brings him to Christ. The woman at the well was very skeptical, with her encounter with Christ. In this light Thomas looks good and is in line with all in the passed people on their spiritual journey.
Thomas has a burning need for a personal contact with the risen Christ. All of Thomas’s friends have had an encounter with the risen Christ; Thomas yearned for the same experience. “Thomas will not be shamed into believing, or shamed into at least keeping his unbelief to himself. Neither will Thomas ignore what he knows in order to believe something he does not know.” I too have this same yearning, on my spiritual journey.
Nathaniel has his encounter, the woman at the well has an encounter, and Mary and the disciples have theirs.
John’s gospel has a pattern in which someone hears about Jesus and needs more — and then receives what they need. This opens the door for their personal experience of the risen Christ. The church of early Christians not only continue the ministry of Jesus, they increases it. One needs a personal experience in order to offer a testimony. The important thing here is that we are on a spiritual journey, a journey of experience and encounter with the living Christ.
Our community today is no different. We tell about Christ and invite other to come and see. Our invitation is the same as the early church. We continue to show Christ love and invite others to come and experience Christ in their lives. Showing our love is basic in the spreading of the Joyful News of the risen Christ.
I would like to close with a story from the Desert Fathers as a summary of today’s readings.
Four monks came to Abba Pambo, one fasted, one owned nothing, the third was a man of charity, and the fourth lived in the obedience to others. Abba Pambo said, “ The latter has greater virtue. The other three use their own wills to keep their promises. But this one roots out his self-will and makes himself the servant of another’s will. People like that. If they persevere till death, are saints”