Today, as I listened to Father F. give a wonderful homily on the Gospel reading today (John 20:19-31), I mused about this "strange beatitude," as Father called it. This is the part of St. John's gospel where he tells us about how Thomas would not believe in Our Lord's resurrection until he could actually see the risen One. In part it says:
"Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”"
I thought about a Catholic/Protestant "debate" forum I participate on. We debate the True Presence on a regular basis. The Protestants (or evangelicals, some like to call themselves) say that Jesus NEVER said that He meant His words to be taken literally as recorded by St. John in chapter 6 of his Gospel. I find it interesting how protestants say they believe every word spoken by Jesus, but pick and choose what they take literally and what words of Paul's they use to explain away what Jesus said. They also seem to pick and choose what is to be taken literally from their truncated Old Testament also (commentary for another time).
Anyway, I made a connection between John 6 and John 20 that I hadn't seen before. It made me all the more sure that the Church is right to take Jesus' words literally in John 6, when He said over and over, "I am the Bread from Heaven," "You must eat my Flesh...and drink My Blood and you will go to Heaven," "Eat My Flesh...and dring My blood and you will live forever." Prots LOVE to explain this away because he used parables in other parts of John's Gospel--all of which were explained to the apostles, by the way--and Jesus says, "...the flesh profiteth nothing..." later in the Chapter. Of course, intelligent readers of the Gospel know He is not referring to His own Flesh here. He is referring to the Pharisees only seeing things throught their own experience, thinking "in the flesh." He said He spoke the words of Life. Well, He said, "...eat My Flesh...drink My Blood..." Those ARE the words of Life that He spoke moments before.
Well, today I made the connection with John 20. “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” One of the biggest objections of those who do not take Jesus at His word is that they see no change. Just like Thomas they will not believe without "proof." They will do loop-de-loop arguments, twisting Scripture this way and that, to say that Jesus didn't mean what He said. They want to see a physical, material change. Guess what? We take Jesus at His word. We believe the bread becomes His Flesh without seeing it happen because He said it happens. He commanded them to EAT and DRINK in John 6 and then gave them the Bread and Wine, as His Flesh at the Last Supper. He gave the apostles the means, the words, and the blessing to make this wonderful miracle of Life happen. Blessed are those who believe Him without seeing it will be blessed.
Jesus said you are blessed if you believe without seeing. Do you believe Him?
Here are some good places to start if you want to investigate the Church further: