One day a young boy who was preparing to make his first communion asked me a very pointed question. “How do we know there is a God?” I didn’t answer quickly but the let the question sit before us for a little while. I knew that he was a bright young boy, so I decided to ask him a question before answering his.
“Do you know the difference between knowing something and believing in something?” He answered positively. “We know things by studying them scientifically. We believe something just by accepting it without proof.” I congratulated him on knowing the difference. I then said, “So we really believe in God rather than knowing him scientifically or academically.” He seemed to be content with my answer.
He had quite a few questions that day. I came away from our conversation with the conviction that he would continue to grow in knowledge and in faith.
After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples, as many as five hundred at a time. They came away from these experiences believing that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Remembering all of his promises, they also came to believe that they would be raised from the dead as well. That conviction made it possible for them to endure the persecutions that began around 70 A.D. and continued until Constantine proclaimed that Christianity was the official religion of the Roman Empire in 380 A.D., three hundred and ten years later.
In the passage from the Acts of the Apostles which we read today, the persecution of Christians begins with the death of Stephen. Though it caused many believers to scatter, the apostles continued to preach and to baptize. We hear today of Philip’s efforts in Samaria.
Placing faith in Jesus is the bed rock of the Christian faith. Whether we are beset with persecutions or with disease, our faith prompts us to trust that Jesus will see us through this time. While we may be separated by the Covid 19 pandemic, we are still united in our faith.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator