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4/8: Hearing, Seeing, Touching

2 Easter, April 8

Acts 4:32-35Ps. 1331 John 1:1-2:2John 20:19-31

The “whole group of those who believed were of one heart and one soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common” (Acts 4:32). This primitive ideal continues today as a distinctive feature of monastic life. Most Christians, though keeping private wealth, will acknowledge that Christian life is never merely private. The Church is one heart and soul, a shared life of all the baptized who bear the triune name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Ps. 133:1). The heart and soul of the Church is its common witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, a witness marked by power, grace, and joy (Acts 4:33; 1 John 1:4).

“Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came” (John 20:24). He refused to believe, saying, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25).

A week later, when Thomas was present, Jesus appeared. Thomas saw and believed. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (John 20:29). “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).

Yet is not faith a form of seeing, a way of touching, and a kind of deep hearing? “We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life” (1 John 1:1).

There is a sense in which this is true of every Christian in every age. Not only do we understand and see God’s eternal power and divine nature in created things, but we also see and touch the risen Lord in the sacramental life of the Church and the material wonders of creation. Jesus is a body, and faith is a way of seeing him, and hearing him, and touching him.

The Eucharist is the setting in which this is most vivid. Christ is present as the community gathers, present as Scripture is read and preached, present in prayer and the exchange of peace, present in bread placed in hands and wine that touches lips. He is heard and seen and touched. Notwithstanding the long and labored debates about the meaning of the Eucharist, it is theologically appropriate to affirm the real presence of Christ is the most graphic way and devotionally fitting to use majestic and beautiful words.

Consider Richard Hooker: “Let it therefore be sufficient for me presenting myself at the Lord’s table to know what there I receive from him, without searching or inquiring of the manner how Christ performeth his promise; let disputes and questions, enemies to piety, abatement of true devotion, and hitherto in this cause but over patiently heard, let them take their rest; let curious and sharp-witted men beat their heads with what questions themselves will, the very letter of the word of Christ giveth plain security that these mysteries do as nails fasten us to his very cross, that by them we draw out as touching efficacy, force, and virtue, even the blood of his gored side, in the wounds of our Redeemer we there dip our tongues, we are dyed red both within and without, our hunger is satisfied and our thirst forever quenched” (Laws, Bk. V, LXVII, 12)

We have met him, seen him, and touched him. Thus, our joy is complete; thus, we have life in his name (1 John 1:4; John 20:31).

Look It Up
Read Richard Hooker on the Eucharist.

Think About It
“O my God thou art true, O my soul thou art happy” (Hooker).


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