By Father Patrick Longalong
During the Easter season, we frequently hear the words faith and believe since most often we reflect on scripture passages that focus on being witnesses to the resurrection of Christ. However, this weekend’s readings allow us to go deeper into the core of true faith. It is the necessity of trust that makes our faith authentic.
In the Gospel reading, we hear Philip say, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” His request seemed reasonable but upon further reflection, how many times have we seen things and still do not believe? This is why Jesus responded, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip?”
It must’ve been my third year at Our Lady of the Snows when I was visited by a young single parent. I remember peeking into the bassinet to see a baby girl sleeping. The mother explained to me her challenging situation surrounding the discovery of her daughter’s condition. A few months back, the infant was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and had since been seeing a variety of specialists.
There was an overwhelming number of appointments that had to be kept to ensure that the child would get the necessary assistance she needed.
The baby stirred for a moment then cried a couple of minutes before her mother decided to take her into her arms. I saw through the mom’s demeanor that she was exhausted and desperately needed sleep. There was a moment of relief when the baby quietly nestled in her arms with a pacifier.
There was silence for a moment but then her phone rang. She looked at me as if asking what she should do. It was obviously from one of the doctors. I told her not to worry while I opened my arms to receive the child. I saw the young mother go out to the hallway to privately take her call while leaving me alone with the baby. I looked at the sleeping child. There was no outward indication that there was anything wrong with her. I looked at the image of Our Lady of the Snows and asked for her help. I closed my eyes and asked the Holy Spirit to breathe into the baby girl in my arms as I slowly rocked her to sleep.
The mother came back to my office explaining the new set of scheduled therapies that her daughter would have to attend. After a brief moment of conversation, I gave her a “Green Scapular” and instructed her to use the enclosed prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It was a devotion that Sister Mary Ann Tirelli, OP taught me when she was still alive. I explained that maybe saying the prayer might give her comfort in the days ahead.
After three months had passed, my sister called me and asked what I had done. The child’s mother, who was also her friend, had called to say that her daughter had been healed. The doctors told her that for some reason, they could not find any indication that her daughter still had cerebral palsy. They could not explain what happened. For us who have faith, we say it is a miracle.
Experiences like this inspire hope and increase awareness of the love that God has for us. But only if we have true faith that involves trust. For others without true faith, it brings confusion and further questions.
Peter’s invitation in the second reading reminds us that those who place their faith and trust in the Lord will not be disappointed. It is true that we are not exempted from the normal day today struggles, but we can always hold on to the fact that “whoever believes in [him] shall not be put to shame.”
This weekend is a reminder for all of us to keep our hope strong by trusting in the healing power of God. In this time of global health crisis, we can believe that our prayers are being heard and answered by God who is full of mercy and deserving of all our trust.
Readings for the Fifth Sunday of Easter
Psalm 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19
1 Peter 2:4-9
Father Longalong is the pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes, Queens Village, and coordinator of the Ministry to Filipino Immigrants.