THE TRUE JOY

Rev. John Kha Tran

A college professor, an avowed atheist, was teaching his class. He shocked several of his students when he flatly stated he was going to prove there was no God.

Addressing the ceiling he shouted: "God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I'll give you 15 minutes!"

The lecture room fell silent. You could have heard a pin fall. Ten minutes went by. Again he taunted God, saying, "Here I am, God. I'm still waiting."

His countdown got down to the last couple of minutes when a Marine - just released from active duty and newly registered in the class - walked up to the professor, hit him full force in the face, and sent him tumbling from his lofty platform.

The professor was out cold! The students were shocked and babbled in confusion.

The young Marine took a seat in the front row and sat silent. The class fell silent...waiting.

Eventually, the professor came to, shaken. He looked at the young Marine in the front row. When the professor regained his senses and could speak he asked: "What's the matter with you? Why did you do that?"

"God was busy. He sent me."

Doubt

The source of doubting the existence and the power of God comes from Satan. From the beginning of human existence, Satan has been trying to cast doubt in the minds and hearts of God’s people. He cannot tempt Adam and Eve to question the existence of God, but he entices them to question God’s authority. He even tempts Jesus to question God’s power. “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you . . .’ Jesus answers Satan, “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” Jesus comes to show us the face of God. His mission is to show us the way back to God. The sad thing is that many people neither want to accept Jesus nor believe in his message. The Jewish authority of his time rejected him; they decided to kill him. Many of the people also went along with their leaders. They gave their consent to the execution. They executed him because they did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God.

Shock

Even the disciples were not convinced that Jesus was back alive. The resurrection was a great surprise to them. When Jesus appeared and stood in their midst, they were startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost. They reacted that way, because they did not believe it would happen. But Jesus’ resurrection was real. Jesus asked them, “Why are you troubled? Why do questions arise in your hearts?” Christ had to convince them that it was him. To prove to them, He showed them the marks on his hands and on his feet. He asked them to touch him and the scars on his hands and his feet. Those are the true signs for the disciples as well as for us to recognize the true Jesus. The scars on his hands and on his feet are the signs of the true Jesus who sacrificed himself for us. St. John recorded in the Gospel: “Thus it is written: Christ must suffer and on the third day rise from the dead. In his name repentance must be preached to every nation on earth for the forgiveness of sins, beginning from Jerusalem.

After the Shock

Then they realized that the risen Christ was real. They became overjoy. They moved from doubt to shock, from shock to joy, from joy to faith, from faith to conversion, and from conversion to evangelization. They became true believers. They believed in the person of Jesus Christ. They believed that the resurrected Christ was a real, living person identified with the man died on the cross. The resurrected Christ opened their minds and hearts and showed them a new way of life. They completely changed in their relationship with Christ. They trusted Him and his teachings completely. And they became committed followers. They faithfully carried out what Jesus commanded them to do. “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.” They became fearless. They publicly proclaimed that Jesus was real. His resurrection was real. Peter, standing in public, fearlessly preached to the Jews, “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified his servant Jesus whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence, when he had decided to release him. You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses” (Acts 3:13-15).

 Peter is basically saying four things to his Jewish listeners:
1) You did wrong;
2) But you acted out of ignorance;
3) God used what you did to fulfill the messianic prophecy;
4) Repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

What Peter is telling us is that conversion is the only way to restore harmony to our lives; there is always room for conversion. No one can say that he or she has already done perfectly with their faith. There is still some ignorance in every one of us. There are many people who are still living in ignorance of God and of Jesus Christ. We are living in the 21st century with many advanced technologies. We have developed effective transportation systems to travel around the world. We have created super communication technologies to network with people from different parts of the world. We have advanced in medical science and technologies to save many lives. Our living condition is much better now than it was in the past. We have a rich knowledge of the world, of the universe, and of many other areas of human life, but no technology can fix the human hearts. There are still defects in the hearts of every human being. There are so many incidents of scandals in the Church, in the governments, and in our society. Our human hearts are still defective. There is a need of conversion in every human heart. Our hearts are still defective and we are still not satisfied because we are still acting ignorantly in our relationship with God and with Jesus Christ. We are only satisfied when we have the knowledge of Jesus Christ. The disciples of Jesus did not have all the knowledge about the world, the universe. They did not have the sophisticated technologies like we have, but they were happy and satisfied. They were happy and satisfied, because they had the true knowledge of Jesus Christ. They had a real relationship with the resurrected Christ. Believing in Jesus Christ is the only way to give us true joy. Converted to Jesus Christ is the only way to happiness. If you want to be happy and feel satisfied, take times to learn more about Jesus. The more you know Jesus, the better person you become. The better person you become, the happier and the more satisfied you experience in life. Jesus Christ is the answer to the desire of our human hearts.