27 December, 2017: The Beauty of Belief

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Feast of St. John, the Apostle

Reading: 1 Jn. 1. 1-4; Gospel: John 20: 1a, 2-8

One of the most quoted saying in philosophy and theology is “I understand in order to believe.” Attempts to substantiate and base faith on solid rational categories were there from early days itself both in the West and in the East. Christianity too was not immune from it. Hence, we have the Church Fathers and the Apologetics who tried to explain Christianity in order to appeal to the rational mind. During the Scholastic period of the Middle Ages, this intermingling of philosophy and theology reached a novel height. This struggle and attempt goes on even now. In today’s Gospel we find an entirely different model of belief: “I believe in order to understand.” There are things that go beyond our comprehension, our understanding and they are given meaning only by belief. Sts. Peter and John didn’t see the risen Lord; they only saw that the tomb was empty and that the cloth was rolled to the side. There was no apparition of our Blessed Lord to the apostles. Yet, they believed that the Lord has risen. This is an anticipation of what Jesus told Thomas: “Blessed are those who didn’t see yet believe.” If one could explain everything of what we call faith it is no more faith; rather it is a scientific theory with well established laws and formulations. But the beauty of belief lies in the fact that we know that there is yet we can’t explain what it is. This is the beauty of belief: We don’t know it completely yet we feel it all around.

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