Seeking Proofs
2nd Sunday of Easter (c)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

There are enough lawyers in the family to make me pick up some legal jargon as I browse over their books of jurisprudence. These books are not really easy reading. I learned that one has to tread carefully over the legal landscape to avoid pitfalls such as “allegata non probata”. It is no good to allege something unless one has proofs. A good lawyer knows how to carry or to shift to somebody else’s shoulders the “burden of proof”. Theoretically, in the Philippines one is deemed innocent until proven guilty. The burden of proof is therefore on the one who alleges.

There must have been some lawyers in the family circle of Thomas the Apostle. When he was told that the Lord was risen, his reaction was perfectly legal. Where’s the proof? I will only believe when I see the marks of the nails in his hands and touch his wounded side. Thomas was being empirical about it. “Res ipsa loquitur” – the thing speaks for itself. He was seeking proofs. He would not even believe the testimony of his close friends. He had to see for himself. “Contra factum non est disputandum” – against fact there is no argument. Many of us would react exactly like him.

If one looks into the event of the Resurrection with a legal mind, the issue of proof really boils down into the testimony of eyewitnesses. The disciples of Jesus met, talked with, walked with, and ate with the Risen Lord, three days after He died on the cross and was buried in the tomb. The liturgical readings of the first week of Easter detailed all these encounters with the Risen Lord. Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene. He walked with the two disciples to Emmaus and had supper with them. He showed Himself to the group of apostles, with Thomas absent. He again appeared, this time to invite Thomas to touch his wounds. His disciples would meet Him, like in old times, as they went fishing in the Sea of Galilee. In fact, the Risen Lord was with them for forty days after the Resurrection and before He ascended to the Father.

We, the latter disciples are the heirs of the eyewitnesses.. We are the bearers of the testimony of the apostles. In a way, we are also witnesses to the Resurrection. And here is where things get really interesting. What we allege remain as hearsay evidence, unless we experience the Risen Lord Himself. There’s the rub. Unless we experience the Risen Lord in our own life, what we say remains as hearsay. Law practitioners know that hearsay evidence is the weakest kind of evidence.

Seems to be a tall order. How can we experience the Risen Lord? Will He appear to us like He did to the two disciples at Emmaus? Will He pass through close doors and show us His hands and side? Will we see the Lord in a vision like St. Faustina who saw the Lord as Divine Mercy (today is the Sunday of Divine Mercy)?

For most of us believers, we experience the Lord not in His Glorified Body like the apostles, nor in a vision like St. Faustina or many of the saints before us. Rather, we experience the Lord as life-giving Spirit. We encounter the Lord in faith. We experience the Lord speaking to us in the depth of our hearts. We feel His abiding presence. We know He is alive, although we have not seen Him with our physical eyes. To us was addressed the Lord’s words, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” We see the Lord with the eyes of faith.

Action starter: Faith is a gift. Pray for faith. If you do not have faith to pray, still pray. God will give it.