This is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith." In one short sentence, St. John, the beloved disciple of Christ, expresses the profoundest philosophy ever put before thinking man. We have had many philosophers and many searchers after the meaning and purpose of rational life on earth. We have had many attempts at explanations, but all have failed, for none of them satisfied the innate desires and total capacity of human nature. Of all the beings on our planet, man alone has the faculties for perceiving the truth and for enjoying the beautiful. While he shares with the animal kingdom the impulse to self-preservation and the perpetuation of the species, he has within him powers that surpass all animal instincts and raise him above the material world where he lives and moves. He can perceive beauty, truth, love, joy and happiness. With his will, which is motivated by the good, he can and does desire to possess these supramundane "goods," not only for a few short years but forever.
How can man do this? How can he fulfill that desire for perpetual happiness, that longing for unending love, that craving for eternal beauty and joy especially if his life is to end forever in the grave and if the same dreary fate is to await him as awaits the dumb animals? This is where the goodness and infinite generosity of God steps in. It was he who gave us these spiritual faculties. Of their very nature they seek for spiritual fulfillment, and therefore he has planned for us an existence after our earthly death, in which all our rational desires will be fulfilled.
This is the message of the Christian faith. St. John says that it conquers and puts in its proper place, in relation to man, our world and all its false attractions. This is the good news which Christ came on earth to establish and announce to men. God has planned a future life of perfect happiness for all who will accept it. Through sending his divine Son in our human nature, he has elevated our nature and given us a new status, the status of adopted sons. It gives us a right to the eternal kingdom of the Father. Our mortal life, if left to itself, would end naturally in the grave. But through the incarnation it is transformed into a new and everlasting life. As the preface of the Mass for the dead says : "life is not taken away (from us) rather it is changed." Death for the adopted son of God is not the end but the beginning of the true, beautiful and happy, unending life.
This is surely a story of victory and the true philosophy of life. Our Christian faith alone gives the answer to all the problems which have disturbed men down through the ages. We, therefore, have the truth. We know the real facts of life and death. We have God's revelation through Christ, but we must put our knowledge into daily practice. It is not enough to be a Christian, nor enough to know where we are going, "it is not those who say to me 'Lord, Lord' who will enter into the kingdom of heaven but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven" (Mt. 7: 2 1). We must live as Christians, and travel the road marked out for us by Christ. We must do the will of God every day of our lives.
We must love God, then, and love our neighbor who is a fellow-child of God like ourselves. We must keep God's commandments. When we truly realize what reward awaits us, the keeping of the commandments will not be a burden but, as St. John says, a pleasure and a privilege. Our Christian faith is surely the victory which overcomes the world.
GOSPEL: John 20: 19-31. On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe."
Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."
Now Jesus did many other things in the presence of his disciples, 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.