Seen and Unseen — December 28 — St. John the Evangelist

Today’s Gospel says that when John the Apostle went into the tomb on Easter morning “he saw and believed.” What did he see that led him to believe? Was it how the burial cloth which had wrapped Jesus’ body wasn’t taken away or tossed in a mess on the floor,  but left behind (perhaps deflated) in its place? Or was the cloth which had covered the Lord’s head rolled up in a familiar way, such that John recognized Jesus’ hand behind it. Or perhaps, if the Shroud of Turin is truly the burial shroud of Christ, John believed through beholding its testimony to the resurrection.

On the other hand, maybe it wasn’t something John saw that led him to believe, but something he didn’t see. Perhaps it was from the fact that Jesus wasn’t there that he infered the truth. “Dead bodies don’t just disappear for no reason at all. I didn’t do this. None of us did this. And what motive would our enemies have to take Him? This is the work of God.”

Just as John may have inferred the resurrection of Jesus from the empty tomb, so we can infer the truth of God from the presence of the universe: “Things don’t just appear for no reason at all. I didn’t make this. None of us made this. And how could an enemy have to create beauty, life, and love? This is the work of God.”

Tradition says that after Jesus entrusted the care of His mother into the care of John the Apostle, they went to live in what is modern-day Turkey.  What if we had gone to visit them in their home at Ephesus and asked them how someone can believe in the God of the universe, or the Lord Jesus Christ, when their reality can sometimes seem so distant.

I can imagine Mary or John replying, “Beloved, the One who was from the beginning, whom we have heard, whom we have seen with our eyes, whom we looked upon and touched with our hands, the Word of God, the Word of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ——we have seen Him, and testify to Him, and proclaim to you His eternal life.” The Christian faith is firmly founded, upon the unseen things we can infer and the things which we  have seen.

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