Believing and Rejoicing
August 13, 2021
Revelations 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab
1 Corinthians 15:20-27
One of the most poignant moments in John’s Gospel comes from the meeting between Jesus and Thomas the Apostle after the Resurrection. “Doubting Thomas” refused to accept the truth of Jesus’ triumphant return until he had physically touched the wounds in his hands and side. In their exchange, we witness Jesus invite Thomas to “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.”
Although not this week’s Gospel reading, connecting moments in Scripture can help the faithful cultivate a more profound understanding from the blessing of, in essence, remembering the rest of the story. St. Elizabeth’s words to Mary at the Visitation illustrate the faithful response to God’s promises and the markings of true faith. She says of Mary, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Words Jesus will echo in his exchange with Thomas 30-plus years later.
Mary believed in God’s promise of a Messiah before experiencing the miraculous Resurrection — truly blessed by not needing physical evidence in order to accept the truth. She trusted in the prophecies, in the promises of God, recognizing He is our ultimate salvation. Mary did not allow any obstacles to hinder her faith, and for that, she was blessed and rejoiced.
How easily we can falter to believe, looking for signs and wonders as caveats of believing. Obstacles against seeing and accepting the truth of God’s promises fulfilled can mount daily if we fail to view the world with the eyes of a heart willing to see God at work and embrace Jesus’ glorious victory over sin, death, and the trouble of this world.
Mary allowed grace to fill every ounce of her being — strengthening her to give a daily ‘yes’ to follow and believe. Before Jesus even explained to the disciples that the work of God is to believe in the One sent by God — Mary believed. As she stood before Elizabeth with the Fulfillment incubating within her, her Magnificat’s bursts forth, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
We receive the same promises through the Eucharist; we see these Mysteries unfold with Jesus literally within us every time we receive the Eucharist. The grace that filled every ounce of Mary’s being is available to us abundantly; we merely need to ask, accept, and cooperate with it. “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). What keeps us from asking? Although credited as doubting, Jesus did not withhold from St. Thomas what he asked for to help him believe.
Mary reminds us that God “has mercy on those who fear Him in every generation.” Believing without seeing, however difficult, is not impossible. God would never ask the impossible. He is a loving God that works the impossible within us through cooperation with grace. No one exemplifies the powerful results of allowing ourselves to be filled with the grace of God more than the Blessed Virgin Mary. May we turn to her intercession, especially today, so we too may be counted among the blessed who have not seen and yet believe.