Acts: 4: 32 – 35;
Responsorial Pslam:118
1 John 5: 1 – 6;
Gospel: John 20: 19 – 31
The steamship Statendam was destroyed by the Nazis in Rotterdam. Her captain, George
Barendse, was in America on business. He repeatedly tried to communicate with his wife
and only son in Rotterdam. The city was systematically bombed, a great many people
reported killed and the major part of the city was reduced to a shambles.
On that tragic Sunday morning in May 1940, the Captain attended the church service
conducted by his friend, Dr Norman Vincent Peale. Crushed by the weight of his great
sorrow, the captain, however sang: “ A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never
failing.” The strong faith rooted in his heart glistened brightly in his tears. Later, over lunch
with his pastor, he prayed: “God help me not to hate…. Give Your guidance in thought, in
speech, and action to those who rule over the countries in war and … may Your will be
done and ….. Your kingdom come.”
The words came one by one, slowly, in soul-wrenching pain. “God, watch over my wife
and boy. Before my wife was mine she belonged to You; before my little boy came to me
he was Yours, Father….. they are in Your hands. I trust You. May Your will be done.”
Again the captain searched his soul. “ I pray for Hitler. God guide Hilter. He has great
power over men’s lives. You can change his heart, God, Help me not to hate Hitler… help
me to mean that…. O God.”
The captain had a new birth. He rose from his prayer renewed, strengthened in faith,
purified in love and brightened in hope, glad to be alive. The power of faith, strength from
faith to overcome the world and live!
Apostle Thomas refused to believe there could be something gloriously wonderful after the
death of Jesus. He refused to accept an contemplate Jesus in faith. He wanted physical and
tangible proof, knowledge of the senses rather than knowledge of faith. So Jesus took him

at his own word and granted his desire. However, Jesus corrected Thomas: “ Have you
believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
Faith brings blessedness, it is a never failing source of strength, an undying spring of power,
a sure sign of victory. This blessedness, this power and strength, are our only if we believe
in Jesus. God created man for happiness, not to wallow in misery. God’s plan for man is
one of confident and radiant living, not one of anxiety, worry and defeat. This is the whole
thrust of the Bible: to invite and persuade us to trust in God. SO St John logically ends his
Gospel: “Now Jesus did many other signs which are not written in this book; but these are
written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that, believing,
you may have life in His name.”
“ Believing, you may have life in His name.” St John in today’s second reading shows what
precisely in this life. “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God.” SO
the life that faith generates in us is divine, God’s own life. He who believes that Jesus is
God becomes a child of God. This is a stupendous statement. What should be the nature
and power of this faith to effect such a profound transformation in us?
It is a new way of being in the world, a triumphant and buoyant way of being. For St John
adds: “Whatever is born of the world, our faith. Who is he that overcomes the world? He
who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” Faith gives birth to new powers and
possibilities which enable us to overcome the world. Ours is a crisis – ridden life, troubled
and worried, harassed and haggard we are often. Despair eats into our psychological, moral
and spiritual system and drives us to depression. Any remedy?
The wounds of Jesus are a scandal, a stumbling block for faith, yet they are the test of faith.
That is why on the body of the risen Christ, the wounds never pass away; they remain for
those wounds are the enduring sign of God’s love for us. They are essential for believing in
God. Not for believing that God exists, but for believing that God is love, mercy and
faithfulness. St Peter quoting Isaiah, writes to Christians: “By his wounds, you have been
healed” (1 Pet 2: 24, cf Is 53:5)
Saint John XXIII an Saint John Paul II were not afraid to look upon the wounds of Jesus, to
touch His torn hands and His pierced side. They were not ashamed of the flesh of Christ,
they were not scandalized by him, by His cross: they did not despise the flesh of their

brother ( Is 58: 7), because they saw Jesus in every person who suffers and struggles. These
were two men of courage, filled with the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the
Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy; mercy, shown by those five wound s,
was more powerful; and more powerful too was the closeness of Mary our Mother.
In these two men, who looked upon the wounds of Christ an bore witness to His mercy,
there dwelt a living hope and an indescribable and glorious joy (1 Pet 1: 3, 8). The hope
and the joy which the risen Christ bestows on His disciples, the hope and the joy nothing
and no one can take from them. The hope an joy of Easter, forged in the crucible of self-
denial, self-emptying utter identification with sinners, even to the point of disgust at the
bitterness of that chalice. Such were the hope and the joy which these two holy popes had
received as a gift from the risen Lord and which they in turn bestowed in abundance upon
the people of God, meriting our eternal gratitude.
God bless!