“Seeing,” “hearing,” “knowing,” and “believing” are all key concepts in John’s Gospel. Near the end of his Gospel, John the Evangelist tells us, “Jesus did many other signs that are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God; and that through this belief you may have life in his name.”
In John’s Easter Sunday Gospel, Mary of Magdala comes to Simon Peter and to “the other disciple that Jesus loved” (very often identified as John himself), and tells them that the body of Jesus has been taken away from the tomb, and that she has no idea where it is. Peter and John then run to the tomb. John, yielding to Peter’s authority as the leader of the disciples in the Lord’s absence, bends down to look into the tomb, seeing the burial cloths there, but doesn’t go in. When Peter arrives, he goes in, and finds the burial shroud there, but what seems most to impress Peter is that the cloth that had covered the head of Jesus was not on the ground, scattered or torn, but “rolled up in a separate place.”
How that cloth was treated seems to convince Peter that the body of Jesus was not stolen or moved, but that something else happened. And then, John tells us, that when he finally followed Peter into the tomb, he “saw and believed.” What will it take for us to believe? What will remove our every doubt? What experience of the power of the Risen Lord does God want us to have this Easter of 2016? May our prayer be that we, too, will come to “see and believe.”
—Fr. Michael A. Vincent, S.J. serves as associate pastor of the Church of the Gesu, University Heights, OH.