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Tag Archives: THOMAS

BY OUR FAITH IN THE SAVING EFFECT OF CHRIST’S DEATH AND RESURRECTION WE ARE MADE CHILDREN OF GOD

BY OUR FAITH IN THE SAVING EFFECT OF CHRIST’S DEATH AND RESURRECTION WE ARE MADE CHILDREN OF GOD

(A biblical refection on THE SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER [YEAR A] – 19 April 2020)

[SUNDAY OF DIVINE MERCY]

Gospel Reading: John 20:19-31 

First Reading: Acts 24:42-47; Psalms: Psalm 118:2-4,13-15,22-24; Second Reading: 1Peter 1:3-9 

The Scripture Text

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any they are retained.”

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But He said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in His side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:19-31 RSV) 

At the Last Supper, Christ had said to the Apostles: “Truly, truly, I  say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. ……  So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:20, 21). And in today’s Gospel  we can see how Christ kept His promise, “Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord” (John 20:20). …… They were filled with joy!

For us also, Jesus must be, not a figure in a book, not a memory from the past, but rather a living presence, one who is with us, here and now. To those who, like Thomas, would argue that this is making too great a demand on our credulity, Christ replies, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed” (John 20:29). Because, as St. Augustine pointed out, “Faith is to believe, on the word of God, what we do not see.” It is like taking a step in the dark while trusting absolutely in what God is promising to us as the consequence.

The resurrection of Christ was a unique happening that lies beyond all human reasoning or understanding. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. ……  By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear” (Hebrews 11:1,3). The first chapter of the Bible tells us that the universe began in a single flashing act of creation, when God willed all things into being, out of nothing.

The resurrection of Christ, of which we are celebrating the octave, is a mystery also. The risen glorified body of the Lord is a new creation. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord. Faith, joy – a faith which leads to and is the cause of joy – that is the message for us today. But there is more. For in our following of Christ, even though we have not as yet passed through the portals of death, we also can become part of this new creation initiated by Christ. We might even begin to speak of a third creation, for by our faith in the saving effect of Christ’s death and resurrection we are made children of God Himself. We are no longer slaves, but friends, and so on this day we should ask that we may receive and our joy, like that of the Apostles may be full (John 16:24) 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, pour the living water of the Holy Spirit over my heart, so that I may bear fruit for You. Come, Holy Spirit, and reveal Jesus to my heart today. Let me know the Lord and the power of His resurrection. I want to become a new creation today. Amen.

Jakarta, 18 April 2020 [EASTER OCTAVE: SATURDAY] 

A Christian Pilgrim

 
 

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BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN AND HAVE BELIEVED: SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER [YEAR B] – John 20:19-31

Jakarta, 8 April 2018

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN AND HAVE BELIEVED: 2nd Sunday of Easter [Year A] – John 20:19-31

Jakarta, 23 April 2017

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN AND YET BELIEVE

BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN AND YET BELIEVE

(A biblical refection on THE SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER [YEAR A] – 23 April 2017)

[SUNDAY OF DIVINE MERCY]

 

Gospel Reading: John 20:19-31 

First Reading: Acts 24:42-47; Psalms: Psalm 118:2-4,13-15,22-24; Second Reading: 1Peter 1:3-9 

The Scripture Text

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any they are retained.”

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But He said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in His side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:19-31 RSV)

Our knowledge is so far from being absolute, and our information so limited, that we have to treat all data with humility. It is precisely with such humility that we must approach the scriptural accounts of Christ’s resurrection, and not with the kind of obstinacy shown by Apostle Thomas, who refused to believe until he had touched the wounds of Christ’s body.

Thomas failed in two ways: he wanted to verify the faith by physical means, and as well he was not prepared to accept what the rest of the Christian community had by now come to believe. However, we should never imagine that, because of visions of the risen Christ which all the Apostles were privileged to experience, the road to faith was an easier one for them than it is for us. Indeed Luke states quite clearly that when Christ, in the Upper Room, had shown them His hands and His feet, “they still thought it was too good to be true”. It was not only Thomas who doubted. They all had to grapple with the question of what really had occurred (see Luke 24:36-41). And their message for us, and that of Mary Magdalene also in her search for the body of Christ, could well be summed up in the inspired words of the prophet Jeremiah: “You will seek Me and find Me; when you seek Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). This risen Lord was no phantom or hallucination, but rather so real that one could touch or cling to Him. The Jesus who had died was in very truth the Christ who had risen again.

At the Last Supper, Christ had said to the Apostles: “So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22). And in today’s Gospel reading we can see how Christ kept His promise, “then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord” (John 20:20). For us also, Jesus must be, not a figure in a book, not a memory from the past, but rather a living presence, one who is with us here and now. To those who, like Thomas, would argue that this is making too great a demand on our credulity, Christ replies, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (John 20:29). Faith is like taking a step in the dark while trusting absolutely in what God is promising to us as the consequence.

The resurrection of Christ was a unique happening that lies beyond all human reasoning or understanding. The writer of “the Letter to the Hebrews) says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen…. By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear” (Hebrews 11:1,3). The first chapter of the Book of Genesis tells us that the universe began in a single flashing act of creation.

The resurrection of Christ, of which we are celebrating the octave, is a mystery also. The risen glorified body of the Lord is a new creation. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord. Faith, joy – a faith which leads to and is the cause of joy – that is the message for us today. But there is more. For in our following of Christ, even though we have not as yet passed through the portals of death, we also can become part of this new creation initiated by Christ. We might even begin to speak off a third creation, for by our faith in the saving effect of Christ’s death and resurrection, as Paul tells us, we become something extra (Romans 6:4; 2 Corinthians 5:17). We are made children of God Himself. We are no longer slaves, but friends, and so on this day we should ask that we may receive and  our joy, like that of the Apostles, may be full (John 16:24).

Prayer: Heavenly Father, pour the living water of the Holy Spirit over my heart, so that I may bear fruit for You. Come, Holy Spirit, and reveal Jesus to my heart today. Let me know the Lord and the power of His resurrection. I want to become a new creation today. Amen.

Jakarta, 21 April 2017 [EASTER OCTAVE: FRIDAY] 

A Christian Pilgrim 

 

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JESUS CAME AND STOOD IN THEIR MIDST: SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER [YEAR C] – JOHN 20:19-31

HARI MINGGU PASKAH II - TAHUN C

Jakarta, 3 March 2016

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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THOMAS WAS JUST LIKE US

THOMAS WAS JUST LIKE US

(A biblical refection on THE SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER – 3 April 2016)

[SUNDAY OF DIVINE MERCY]

 Remake of doubting St. Thomas

Gospel Reading: John 20:19-31 

First Reading: Acts 5:12-16; Psalms: Psalm 118:2-4,22-27; Second Reading: Revelation 1:9-13,17-19 

The Scripture Text

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any they are retained.”

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But He said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in His side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:19-31 RSV)

The apostles had gathered together in locked quarters out of fear that they would be next in line for execution. But in the midst of their apprehensions, Jesus’ appearance brought them joy, comfort, and peace. Only one apostle – Thomas – was absent when Jesus first appeared. And Thomas refused to believe his companions’ reports of an empty tomb and Jesus miraculously alive again.

For Thomas, the shock of the Master’s arrest and crucifixion had left him brokenhearted and hopeless. It seems that in his grief he sought solitude rather than the comforting presence of his fellow disciples. Thomas was sure of only one thing: He would not believe unless he was given visible proof of Jesus’ resurrection.

Imagine Thomas’ surprise when Jesus showed up – even after Thomas had denied his friends’ stories and told them he simply wouldn’t believe! In just one encounter with Jesus, Thomas’ doubt and sadness gave way to firm conviction and unspeakable joy.

Saint Gregory the Great once wrote, “The supreme mercy … ordered that the doubting disciple, as he touched the wounds in the flesh of his Master, heal in us the wounds of our unbelief.” He went to say that Thomas’ doubt can even help us to believe more than the faith of the disciples who did believe. Why? Because we know we’re not alone. Thomas – one of the chosen twelve – was just like us!

Do you know someone who is wavering in faith or feels abandoned by God? Pray that the Lord Jesus will “show up” and reassure them with His presence. Perhaps you feel distant from the Lord or worried that you’ve done something He won’t forgive. Know that Jesus is present for you with His mercy and grace. Today at Mass He wants to come to you in word and sacrament. He is always ready to speak to you, even in times of adversity, loneliness, or temptation. As you listen to Jesus’ word and invite Him into your heart today, let Him strengthen your faith as He did for His good friend, Thomas.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe that Your victory over sin and death can free everyone from disbelief. Give faith to the faint-hearted and hope to the hopeless that everyone may find life, peace, and joy in Your presence. Amen.

Jakarta, 31 March 2016 [EASTER OCTAVE: THURSDAY] 

A Christian Pilgrim

 

 

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MY LORD AND MY GOD!

MY LORD AND MY GOD!

(A biblical refection on THE SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER – April 12, 2015)

[Sunday of Divine Mercy] 

Gospel Reading: John 20:19-31 

First Reading: Acts 4:32-35; Psalms: Psalm 118:2-4,16-18,22-24; Second Reading: 1John 5:1-6 

the-appearance-to-the-disciples-in-jerusalem-luke-24-35-48The Scripture Text

On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any they are retained.”

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But He said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in His side, I will not believe.”

Eight days later, His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:19-31 RSV) 

Today’s Gospel reading contains what scripture scholar Bruce Vawter calls “the most complete affirmation of Christ’s nature to be found on the lips of anyone in the Gospel.” This precious affirmation is uttered by the apostle Thomas, who ironically is more remembered for his doubts than his faith. He never deserved the title of “doubting Thomas”, which has shadowed him through the ages. He should be known as “courageous Thomas”, with the uncanny habit of speaking clearly his opposing views, regardless of the pressures to agree or remain silent.

6a00d8341bffb053ef00e55470c9948834-500wiHis calm heroic strength is completely ignored by the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke). John only highlights a few incidents where Thomas’ inward bravery shines forth. In John 11:16, when Christ’s life is feared to be in jeopardy, Thomas exhorts the others, “let us go along and die with Him.” In John 14:5, Jesus is telling the Twelve about eternal life and adds parenthetically, “You know the way that leads where I go.” In reality they didn’t know what Jesus meant and, lest they appear stupid, no one asked except Thomas. He broke into the Lord’s dialogue with the query, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, how can we know the way?” Had he remained silent like the rest, we never would have heard the great summary of the Lord’s mission. “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Thanks, Thomas. We needed to hear that.

Today, John says the apostles are huddled in the upper room, hiding behind locked doors for fear of their enemies, finding courage and protection in numbers. Strange, isn’t it, that Thomas isn’t with them? Did he need the security of numbers and bolted doors? Apparently not. He was somewhere on the outside, all on his own. He was just that kind of guy.

Lord Jesus makes His unscheduled visit, and the apostles are hysterical with sheer joy. When Thomas returns they shout in unison: “We’ve seen the Lord” (John 20:25). Thomas calmly seems unimpressed and simply says that he wants to see the wounds before he shares their ecstacy. When Jesus invited him a week later to see and touch the convincing wounds, he offered no apologies and did not try to “explain” his need for further proof. He saw no need for any mental squirming. The truth was now present and typically he said what he felt: “My Lord and my God”. That’s the great statement that should be remembered rather that his previous lingering doubts.

Thomas encourages us to think, probe and question. Our faith must be real and sensible to us. If it is not, we have a good example for direct and vocal inquiry. To just sit back and nod our heads in agreement to confusing presentations is being very “unthomistic”.

Dear Sisters and Brothers, let us try to catch the contagious spirit of the faith-filled apostle Thomas. We (you and I), like millions of others, might want to whisper his famous words at the elevation of the living bread, during the celebration of today’s Mass. 

Short Prayer: Lord Jesus, we long to see Your face. Heal our unbelief, so that we can bow before You and proclaim, “My Lord and My God”. Amen.

Note: Please also read the biblical reflection entitled “BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN AND YET BELIEVE” (reading for April 14, 2012) in the blog: A CHRISTIAN PILGRIMAGE.

Jakarta, 10 April 2015 

A Christian Pilgrim 

 
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THE STORY OF JESUS AND THOMAS

THE STORY OF JESUS AND THOMAS

(A biblical refection on SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER, 27 April 2014)

First Reading: Acts 2:42-47; Psalms: Psalm 118:2-4,13-15,22-24; Second Reading:1 Peter 1:3-9; Gospel Reading: John 20:19-31

Caravaggio_incredulity YESUS DAN TOMAS

The teenaged girl blushed and giggled as the palm-reader spoke slowly while examining her hands; then she excitedly ran back to join her friends. “She says I’m intelligent, will meet a very loving man and have a long life.” “All that just from looking at your hands?” asked one of the group. “Sure, you see this mark? That’s my long lifeline; this one shows intelligence, and the long curving line indicates my future romance.” Another teenager smiled skeptically and patted her friend on the shoulder. “I hope it all comes true for you,” she said, as they sauntered down the midway of the amusement park.

The pseudo-science of palmistry obviously cannot predict the future by analyzing our hands. At best, it’s just a game of make-believe. Today’s Gospel, however, does beckon us to analyze the hands of Jesus to understand His character and to see what the future holds. On our Lord’s hands the usual lines are obscured by the nail scars. These scars reveal His true character in clear and certain terms. They tell us that He suffered and died for others, and was treated as a criminal – not because He was so bad, but because He was so good. The scars show that He persevered until His painful task was finished and that He was, is and ever will be true to His word.

If you don’t feel as close to God as you used to, you should ask yourself, which one of you moved away. In His hands we read His faithfulness and eternal friendship.

The Lord did not carry a driver’s license or social security card, but He had the best identification possible – indelible marks of the nails. These scars in the glorified body of Jesus are the lifelines for fallen humanity.

Thomas was not satisfied with only seeing the face of our Lord to determine His identity. The face can change its expression and deceive others. The face can smile when sad and cry when happy, but the hands cannot change their expression. Jesus understood what Thomas meant, and He said to him, “Take your finger and examine My hands.”

ptg01200187 - KOMUNI KUDUSThere’s a beautiful variety of expression in the many varied hands which are raised to receive Eucharistic Lord. Some are soft and well-manicured; others are shadow-thin and shaky. There are strong and calloused hands of laborers and the little fingers of children. All reach out for Jesus, Jesus reaches back with hands which will bleed no more – but the blessed scars remind us of the day they did.

John says that this story of Jesus and Thomas is told “to help you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, so that through this faith you may have life in His name.”

Source: Rev. James McKarns, GO TELL EVERYONE, Makati, Philippines: St. Paul Publications, 1985, pages 26-27.

Jakarta, 27 April 2014

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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BREAKTHROUGH

BREAKTHROUGH

(A biblical reflection on the 2nd Sunday of Easter [Year C] – 7th of April 2013)

First Reading: Acts 5:12-16; Psalms: Ps 118:2-4,22-27; Second Reading: Rev 1:9-13,17-19; Gospel Reading: Jn 20:19-31 

220px-Helen_Keller_with_Anne_Sullivan_in_July_1888THE story of Helen Keller and Ann Sullivan is told in the movie The Miracle Worker and it serves as a counterpoint to the story of Thomas the apostle today. For Helen Keller the senses of hearing and seeing were barriers instead of bridges to the world. Unable to see or hear or communicate, she spent her childhood in a dark and silent world.

Nonetheless, under the patient guidance of Ann Sullivan, Helen Keller learned how to speak and write. Eventually she became a distinguished lecturer, the author of many books and a world traveler proficient in several languages.

As she herself put it, she was able to “break through the barrier of the senses.” Today’s Gospel represents another such breakthrough, but in a different way. Thomas the apostle can see and hear but is unable to believe in the risen Lord until Jesus Himself appears, speaks and commands Thomas to touch His hands and His side.

It seems that it was now unnecessary for Thomas to actually touch our Lord. Seeing and hearing Jesus were enough for Thomas to make the breakthrough of his senses to reach the point of faith. Jesus said to Thomas: “You believe because you can see Me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

This episode in John’s Gospel is especially significant for us. When this Gospel was being written, the disciples who had actually seen the risen Lord had died. Now many were coming to believe in Jesus even though they had never seen Him.

Thomas thus becomes a key link between the age of the apostles who saw the Lord with their own eyes and all future ages of disciples who will never see Jesus in this life and yet will believe in Him. We are part of this final age of time and we can thank Thomas for occasioning our Lord’s last beatitude, as it were: “Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

TOMAS MERABA LUKA YESUSThe key to making a breakthrough of the barrier of our senses is faith. Certainly much can be demonstrated with the help of our senses. Our scientific labs and law courts depend on what we see, hear and touch to prove things. But there is a realm of experience and knowledge that transcends our senses, a realm where the senses actually become a barrier.

We sometimes call this realm the inner world of our memory and imagination, of intuition and creativity, of religion and mysticism. To penetrate this inner world we have to let go of our external senses, which will only distract us or cause interference, and trust in our inner powers. We call this faith, a belief in some reality for which there are no external signs to prove it exists, yet which somehow we know does exist.

Many are the times we have to make our own personal breakthrough of the senses by an act of faith. When people get married they stake their whole future together on an act of faith. When students choose a college to attend they place immense trust in the teachers. When priests get ordained or religious take vows, they commit themselves to Jesus – someone they cannot see, yet in whom they believe.

We need faith to persevere when we cannot see our goal or to be patient when we cannot see any results; we need faith to make decisions when we have little evidence to go on or to pray when we’re not sure if anyone is listening, let alone speaking to us.

When St. Thomas Aquinas composed his hymns to the unseen Christ present in the visible Eucharist, faith played a key part. Many are the times we have sung: “What our senses fail to fathom, let us grasp through faith’s consent.”

May we renew that faith today and make another break through the barrier of our senses.

Note: Taken from Albert Cylwicki, CSB, HIS WORD RESOUNDS, Makati, Philippines: St. Paul Publications, 1991, pages 228-229.

Jakarta, 7th of April 2013

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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