"In these trying times, we cry out to God for comfort."
“Jesus saith to him (Philip): Have I been so long a time with you; and have you not known me? Philip, he that seeth me seeth the Father also. How sayest thou, show us the Father?” This statement by the Risen Lord to the Apostle Philip sums up the message of the Gospel tomorrow, the Fifth Sunday of Easter.
For three long years, Jesus walked, ate, preached and performed miracles before his disciples; and yet after all those years, most if not all his disciples still entertained doubts about him. “Do you not believe, that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak to you, I speak not of myself. But the Father who abideth in me, he doth the works,” Jesus said. Again, as in many occasions in the past, Jesus tells his disciples that he and the father are one; that he is truly man and truly divine, consubstantial with the Father.
In the early 4th century an Alexandrian presbyter by the name of Arius preached a non-trinitarian theology that only God is self-sufficient and immutable, but the Son is not. The Son is only a creature of the Father, the latter’s subordinate. Jesus according to Arian belief system is but a demi-god. Arianism was very popular in the Eastern and Western Roman empires to the point that St. Athanasius became a saint fighting the heresy and Roman Emperor Constantine I convened the First Council of Nicaea to reaffirm the doctrines of the Catholic Faith. The result of this first ecumenical council is the Nicene Creed formulated by the Council to resolve the Arian controversy. Thus, we recite during the holy mass the Nicene Creed which says in part: We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Indeed, every time Catholics recite the Nicene Creed, we reaffirm the divinity of Jesus Christ as the Logos (Koine Greek for "Word"), "was made flesh" by being conceived in the womb of a woman, the Virgin Mary, also known as the Theotokos (Greek for "God-bearer"). By the Gospel reading we reaffirm our faith in the dual nature of Jesus Christ as true man and true God.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus, with reassuring words, comforts his disciples beset by uncertainty and doubts, and fearful of what is to come. But he encourages them to trust and believe; that he will not abandon them. “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me.” Surely, Jesus is all powerful, eternal just as the Father is. To the question asked by Thomas, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus replied: “I am the way the truth and the life, No man cometh to the Father, but by me.”
After months of the pandemic with the end nowhere in sight, the front-liners, toiling day in and day out to keep everyone safe, must be physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted; many of us who are staying at home, unable to do what we normally do, and sometimes unsure where the next meal will come from, are also by now feeling depressed, forlorn, discouraged and much like the disciples, unsure of what the future holds.
Many of us are terrified by the staggering numbers of those who succumbed to the coronavirus – running into tens of thousands in some parts of the world. Many are asking - Will we ever regain our normal lives before the coronavirus upends everything? When will the suffering all end?
In these trying times, we cry out to God for comfort and draw courage from Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life. At a time when death and infections are snatching and forcibly separating many from their families, when many are lost and confused by all the uncertainties, when so many are misled by wrong information and fake news, it is comforting to know that Jesus, as he said, is the fountainhead of comfort, the spring of life and the source of truth. He is our anchor in the tempest of life; the hope for a humanity which is slowly losing grip of its present and future.
In the last part of the Gospel reading, Jesus solemnly promises his disciples: “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.” By Jesus’ powerful name, everything, even this ferocious virus, will bow down in surrender. All we have to do to is to never doubt and instead offer everything to him for the greater glory of God; to lay before his merciful presence all our fears, loneliness, discomforts, anger, pains and discouragements. In the end, he will show us that he alone is the way, the truth and the life that brings redemption from everything that ails us, even this contagion.
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