The experience of the Apostles after witnessing the humiliation of Christ –the purportedly expected messiah meant to liberate the Israelites from the bondage they were subjected under Roman rule— was such that could not be described by just saying they were disappointed. As a matter of fact, all of them –save for their faith in Jesus’ words and miracles- had seen it all; it was an unexpected ending. Their hope was dashed and their belief was crumbled after Christ’s ignominious death on Calvary. Imagine Nigeria is blessed today with a President who leads us far away from the inglorious days that we now witness, and we are living in Eldorado; suddenly, our hope was dashed and we realised that the President who took us to Eldorado is worse than his/her predecessor? The Jews had had varying experiences of false prophets and good prophets, who prophesied their deliverance from slavery from time immemorial. Albeit, Jesus never came to them as characteristic of prophets; they nonetheless took Him as a prophet.
This was why the Apostles were afraid and holed up in the upper room (Jn 20: 19), after their “Messiah” had died an ignominious death at the hands of the leaders of the people. Life challenges sometimes present us with a situation in which we ordinarily see the light at the end of the tunnel and become hopeful of an end to our problems immediately in sight. However, at the very end of the tunnel our hope, at times, become dashed and we appear to be back to square one. In fact, we would sometimes wish that we never saw the light at the end of the tunnel. One thing was certain with the situation the Apostles found themselves, and their doubt as to whether Christ was truly Who they took Him to be: Their faith in Him as the Son of God was unwavering. The difference was that they never expected Him to die such an ignominious death and at the hands of the very people of God He came to ransom. Hence, why they believed on reaching the tomb and found that He was not there for them to see Him still lying dead: “Then the other disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in; he saw and he believed (Jn 20: 8).” Nevertheless, “The disciples then went back home (Jn 20: 10)” dejected because “Till this very moment they had still not understood the scripture, that He must rise from the dead (Jn 20: 9).” Despite their doubt as human beings, they had an unflinching faith in Him and this paid off when He eventually appeared to them after the resurrection: “And, after saying this, He showed them His hands and His side. The disciples were filled with joy at seeing the Lord (Jn 20: 20).”
Their joy was consequent upon their faith in Him. Like the disciples, many of us also face life threatening situations that challenges us to the bases of our faith in God. We are pushed to the wall sometimes wherein we turn back to God and ask if He truly was God while we went through the situation without His help. In fact, many who lost family members, relatives and friends, and their jobs, to the coronavirus pandemic without any consolation from any quarters might conclude that God is dead. Many received sack letters immediately government eased the initial total lockdown in May, 2020. These are life-threatening situations no doubt. However, let us like the disciples hold unto our faith, unwaveringly in the omnipotent nature of God; believing that He can and would do all things for our good: “I alone knows the plans that I have towards you. Plans for your good and not for your destruction, to give you an expected end (Jer )”. He did not create us for sufferings; He created us to enjoy eternal bliss with Him forever. We are to believe till the end and not lose our faith just as the disciples trusted Him till the end. Our vocation is a call to the life of perpetual faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. And this is what our Christian journey is all about: Christianity is about on-going conversion.
We are not called to a life of timid believe in the power of the resurrection. No! We are called to hold unto the Lord come rain or shine; no matter what life throws at us at any giving time. Whether it be pleasant or unpleasant, whether it is palatable or unpalatable, whether we are broken or we are standing still; alive or dead, our calling is to believe “until the end of time (Mt 28: 20).” “O blood and water which gushed forth from the heart of Jesus, I trust in You: ‘One of the soldiers pierced His side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water (Jn 19: 34).’” Today, the Holy Mother Church celebrates the Divine Mercy Sunday. Showing us the Merciful Heart of Jesus Which does not condemn us even when we err, rather is interested in enlightening us to know the truth.
The Gospel reading of today shows how Christ lovingly say to Thomas: “Then He spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Do not be unbelieving any more but believe (Jn 20: 27).” As we journey on in this voyage to life eternal, let us keep on keeping holding unto our faith as at the time we first believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. Let the initial conviction which led to our conversion spur us into a renewal of our faith in the risen Lord, believing that “our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12: 29).” Let us not toil with the oil of salvation handed unto us at our initiation into the life of Christ. Rather, let us fan into flame the embers of our faith in His saving power and trust in His love for us.
• Wagbemiga Mary-Peter Onifade is a Lagos based Writer/Biographer/Profiler