The Proof in the Pudding

Homily for April 23, 2017 (2nd Sunday of Easter; Divine Mercy Sunday)
Acts 2:42-47; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31

We’ve often heard the phrase, “The proof is in the pudding.”  It’s a shortened and somewhat corrupted version of a proverb that in English may go back to the 14th century.  The actual phrase, though, makes a little more sense:  “The proof of a pudding is in the eating.”  (“Pudding” then usually referred to something like the Scottish haggis, a concoction made with animal entrails and subject to potentially fatal bacteria.)  In other words, we can’t know if something is good or for real until we observe its effects.  It needs to be tested.

On this Divine Mercy Sunday, St. Peter in our second reading reminds us of something that we all know from experience: our faith will be tested—often.  However, in the wake of the Lord’s triumph at Easter we need not fear those tests.   In God’s mercy, Peter assures us, we have been given a new hope in an imperishable promise of resurrection and new life.  In that hope, trusting in that promise, and looking with the eyes of faith, we see and believe in Jesus.

The disciples who were huddled together on the night following Jesus’ resurrection didn’t have the benefit of that understanding, at least not yet.  The doors of that room and the doors of their minds and hearts were closed in fear.  They had witnessed Jesus’ arrest, and those who had scattered had then heard of his trial, torture and execution.  As his followers, their immediate concern was brutally simple and pressing:  they didn’t want to end up like he did.

But they also had to contend with some more spiritually and emotionally profound issues:  How did all of these things happen?  How could the one in whom they had placed such hope meet such a quick, violent and shameful end?  Had they left everything and given years of their lives for nothing?  What would the future have in store for them?

When Jesus came through that door and wished them peace, those questions began to evaporate.  When he breathed the Holy Spirit into them—just as God blew life into the first human at the dawn of creation (Genesis 2:7) and the valley of dry bones came to life from the prophecy and four winds in Ezekiel’s vision (Ez. 37:9-10)—they believed.  Thomas, who wasn’t with them, did not initially have the benefit of seeing what they saw.  When Jesus appeared to them a week later and asked Thomas to test the wounds in his hands and his side, he didn’t deny that “seeing is believing.”  Rather, he challenged them and the generations of disciples who would come after them to remember that believing can also help us to see. 

It was with eyes guided by faith and hearts filled with the Spirit that those who had once cowered in fear behind closed doors helped to lay the foundations of what we know today as the Church.  They drew others to join them by their testimony and even more by the witness and integrity of their lives together.  As we heard in our first reading from Acts 2, they were devoted to the teaching of the apostles, to fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayer.  They shared with each other freely and generously.  They gathered together in public places and in their homes, and as a result, “every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”  The proof of their pudding was in the eating.  It’s no different for us today. +