In his homily at the opening Mass of the Year of Faith last October, Pope Benedict XVI said, “If today the Church proposes a new Year of Faith and a new evangelization, it is not to honor an anniversary, but because there is more need of it, even more than there was fifty years ago. . . . Today, more than ever, evangelizing means witnessing to the new life, transformed by God, and thus showing the path.”
In this special Easter edition, we want to go back in time two thousand years and examine the transformation that the first believers experienced after they saw the risen Jesus. Specifically, we want to look at Mary Magdalene and the apostles John and Thomas to see how their faith was taken to a whole new level.
We are looking at these believers because we are convinced that Jesus wants to take our faith to a whole new level. When he told Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:29), Jesus was saying that he has special blessings stored up for people like us—people who believe without seeing.
Writing to believers in Asia Minor, the apostle Peter summed up the effects that this blessing can have on us: “Even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8). In other words, what the early disciples felt because they saw Jesus in person, we can feel as well—as we “see” Jesus inwardly, in our hearts.
Indescribable Joy. Jesus wants to give us all an “indescribable and glorious” experience of joy. This joy is not the result of logical thinking alone. It is a tangible feeling in our hearts and minds. It’s the rejoicing “in the presence of the Lord” that the Scriptures promise for all who seek him (Deuteronomy 16:11).
Think about the way a married couple can sit together for hours at a time and seem to do nothing. They may make small talk, or they may not even talk at all. On the outside, it may appear that not much is happening. But on the inside, they are experiencing a love, a unity, and a deep appreciation for each other that words cannot express. It’s not “what they do” that matters. It’s just “who they are.” It’s emotional, it’s indescribable, and it’s glorious.
In a similar way, as we fix our gaze on Jesus, we come to realize who he is and what he has done for us. We find ourselves coming to church just wanting to be with Jesus. We are content simply to gaze at the tabernacle and adore the Lord—not with words or activity but with the deepest emotions of our hearts. It’s glorious. It’s indescribable.
During this Easter season, I want to encourage you to ask Jesus to fill you with his presence. Just as his physical presence emboldened the faith of Mary Magdalene, Thomas, and John, his inward presence will heighten our faith and embolden us. His presence will not only bring joy to our hearts, it will also move us to share our joy with the people around us, just as our Holy Father asks us to do.
Joe Difato, Publisher | Email the Publisher at [email protected]