“What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs. If we leave him alone, all will believe in him.” ~John 11:48
Although I have never personally met George Washington, I believe he crossed the Delaware River. I never met Amelia Earhart, yet I do not doubt she flew solo across the Atlantic. I am not personally acquainted with Christopher Columbus; however, I trust that he sailed the ocean blue in 1492. Why then did I struggle for so long to believe the story of Jesus? Since His ministry included performing signs, I take solace in recognizing I am not alone in this struggle.
Like the previously mentioned historical figures, the story of Jesus becomes part of history because those who witnessed it shared it.
They observed his miracles, heard his teachings, and were present for his gruesome crucifixion. Actual people saw, spoke, and dined with Jesus after his resurrection. More importantly, testimonies included “hostile” witnesses trying to squelch excitement about Jesus, who would have much preferred his legacy not continue for the last 2000-plus years.
This epiphany of recognizing Jesus as a historical figure was a game-changer. Understanding the Scripture and tradition in light of eyewitness accounts opened my eyes to the truth, the reality, about Jesus. As Catholic tradition holds, one such witness was the soldier at the foot of the Cross, St. Longinus.
“But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe.” It is said that Longinus was nearly blind and healed when some of the blood and water from Jesus fell into his eyes. It was then he exclaimed, “Indeed, this was the Son of God!” [Mark 15:39]. This encounter converted the centurion.
How often I am blind to the truth of who Jesus is. Witness accounts, such as St. Longinus, remind me of the reality of Jesus’ existence. People who gave testimony, so that I may also believe. Ironically, the very ones who wanted to silence Jesus, so more would not believe, became the conduit.
The signs Jesus performed were not just for the witnesses of that day but continue to be seen today, most especially in the Sacraments. In 2015, my family was going through a difficult time. To cope, I started taking walks around my yard and praying the Rosary. One day as my frustration overwhelmed me and I shouted to the Lord, “What do you want from me?” As I turned the corner and faced the road, a truck drove past with the word “FIDELITY” along the side. I actually laughed out loud; this Latin-rooted word emblazoned on the side of a semi, at the exact moment I prayed for clarity, was no coincidence. The message filled my heart with peace. Jesus asks for me to be faithful.
While I still want to be that person who believes, I am grateful the Lord knows my heart. Therefore, I gleam great joy from the Fidelity trucks, the occasional butterfly, and the homilies that appear written just for me. Those signs remind me that my faith is not misplaced, that God is real. Even the hostile witnesses knew, if many saw these signs, they’d all believe.
Allison Gingras works for WINE: Women In the New Evangelization as National WINE Steward of the Virtual Vineyard. She is a Social Media Consultant for the Diocese of Fall River and CatholicMom.com. She is a writer, speaker, and podcaster, who founded ReconciledToYou.com and developed the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women (OSV).
Feature Image Credit: Danigeza, https://pixabay.com/photos/poppies-field-sunset-dusk-sunlight-174276/