27 December, Monday — Seeing is believing…

Dec 27 – Feast of St. John, apostle, evangelist

St. John, also known as the ‘beloved disciple’ of Jesus, was the son of Zebedee and Salome, brother of St. James the Great, and was called one of the Sons of Thunder. Before becoming Jesus’ disciple, he was already a disciple of St. John the Baptist, and a friend of St. Peter the Apostle. He was called by Jesus during the first year of Christ’s ministry, and travelled everywhere with him. He took part in the Last Supper, and was the only one of the Twelve not to forsake the Saviour in the hour of his Passion, standing at the foot of the cross.

He was made guardian of Our Lady by Jesus, and he took her into his home. Upon hearing of the Resurrection, he was the first to reach the tomb; when he met the risen Lord at the Lake of Tiberius, he was the first to recognise him.

During the era of the new Church, he worked in Jerusalem and at Ephesus. During Jesus’ ministry, he tried to block a Samaritan from their group, but Jesus explained the open nature of the new Way, and he worked on that principle to found churches in Asia Minor and baptising converts in Samaria. He was imprisoned with Peter for preaching after Pentecost. He wrote the fourth Gospel, three Epistles, and possibly the Book of Revelation.

– Patron Saint Index

1 Jn 1:1-4
Jn 20:2-8

…he saw and he believed.

The ending of today’s gospel is, to me, a little hard to believe. How can one of our Lord’s closest friends, the one called ‘the beloved disciple’, only believe when he saw the linen cloths on the ground? Didn’t he witness the healing of the sick, the lame, the blind and even the raising of the dead? Was he not present when Jesus was transfigured? So then, why did he only believe when he went into the empty tomb? He was, after all, the one Jesus loved.

Well, I can most certainly identify with the beloved disciple. Although the Lord has blessed and graced me immensely, I still face situations where I have failed to trust in Him and the worst thing is that I keep telling everyone around me to “Trust in Him, for He is faithful forever”.

So hypocritical, right? And it is something I struggle with all the time. I know that He has a plan for all of us and we are but his instruments to showcase His love and mercy to all. But how can we be His instruments if our faith is so lacking?

What is this faith that is so elusive, so fleeting? In the CCC (153), it is written that faith is a grace and a gift from God.

(153 When St. Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus declared to him that this revelation did not come “from flesh and blood”, but from “my Father who is in heaven”.24 Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him. “Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and ‘makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth.’”)

With this great gift, we are invited to “walk by faith and not by sight”, and the faith that we have is often lived in darkness and can be put to the test (CCC 164).

(164 Now, however, “we walk by faith, not by sight”,49 we perceive God as “in a mirror, dimly” and only “n part”.50 Even though enlightened by him in whom it believes, faith is often lived in darkness and can be put to the test. The world we live in often seems very far from the one promised us by faith. Our experiences of evil and suffering, injustice and death, seem to contradict the Good News; they can shake our faith and become a temptation against it.)

As our Lord told St Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed” (Jn 20:29). So, I think that with these visible signs, e.g. St John seeing the linen cloths in the empty tomb, reinforces the faith that he already received from Jesus. That is, He is the Christ and has come to conquer sin and death forever.

Like St John, we also receive such visible signs from God. We often need to open our eyes and our hearts to acknowledge that it is really God speaking to us and that He is generous with His love and mercy. I know that I am very charged up and filled with such love and zeal for The Lord when they occur. Just a couple of weeks ago, while volunteering during the Catholic200SG activities at the Church of St Peter and Paul, some of us were given the opportunity to be present when the Blessed Sacrament was exposed.

As I gazed upon the Lord in the monstrance, my heart welled up and my tears flowed ceaselessly. It was such a powerful moment, and I really felt the Lord’s presence in the sanctuary. This really served as a reminder of how much I have missed being in the Adoration Room, just spending time with The Lord. The last time I could do that was pre-COVID.

It is these visible signs that help me strengthen my faith and keep me walking on the narrow path. Such moments also encourage us to be visible signs of God to our fellow brothers and sisters in our community. To show that Christ is the centre of our lives and that we can be Christ to others, by witnessing through our actions. As you know, actions do speak louder than words…

As we approach the end of 2021, let us turn to Our Lady and St John, to pray for us to be able to experience Jesus as they did, to be witnesses to the Risen Lord with our lives, and that we may be given the graces to become Jesus’ beloved disciples as well.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Calvin Wee)

Prayer: Father in Heaven, form and mould us into your instruments. You are the potter and we, the clay. Grant us the graces to be Christ to others, sharing His love and mercy and to walk with them along life’s narrow path. Open our eyes and ears that we may hear Your voice and discern Your will.

Thanksgiving: Thank you, heavenly Father for St John, your beloved disciple. By his witness and writings, we have gained an insight into how we can love You more and what your ultimate plan for us will be. Grant us the grace and privilege to also be known as Your beloved disciples.

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