Fifth Sunday of Easter
Cycle A. Readings:
1) Acts 6:1-7
Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19
2) 1 Peter 2:4-9
Gospel: John 14:1-12
By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service
I was 19 when my cousin came to live with my family. He was just out of the Marines. He was not doing very well and was lost in many ways. When we were children we had been close, but it had been a few years since we had seen each other, and trying to re-establish our friendship was hard. To complicate things, my faith was becoming very important to me, and he rarely darkened the door of a church.
I took this in stride though. We had many conversations about the meaning of life, God and faith in general. He had a lot of opinions, but he was not ready to believe that God existed, much less believe that God loved him and wanted a relationship with him.
Try as I might, I could not get him to budge. One night while we were lying in our bunk beds talking about life and faith, almost arguing, he finally said in an exasperated tone, “I’m not going to believe in God unless he comes down here and shakes my hand.” I had no idea what to say to that. I simply stared at the bottom of the top mattress with my mouth open and my mind empty.
I realize now that my cousin was no different from the first disciples. They had been with Jesus for three years and still did not completely understand who he was. At the Last Supper Philip said to Jesus: “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus responds rather incredulously, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”
Twenty-five years ago, lying in that bunk bed, I felt the same way. Didn’t my cousin know Jesus had already come and revealed himself? He grew up Catholic and had heard all the same readings I had heard. What was I to say to this lack of belief? No words came, so I did the only thing I could think of; I silently asked God to come down and shake his hand.
I wish I could say that the next day he experienced a divine handshake, but though the hand of God was continually offered to him, it would be many years before he grabbed hold.
How would you have responded to the challenge, “I’m not going to believe in God unless he comes down here and shakes my hand”? How does Jesus reveal the Father to us?
I would start by asking him if he believed that there was any kind of “higher power” in the Universe. If so, what did he think it was like? He also could be asked if all the suffering around him was part of the way he felt. Ask open ended questions, ” If you believed in God, what would your God be like”?