The saying that “seeing is believing” could be a tagline for this Sunday’s Gospel, which tells the story of the man born blind (John 9:1-41).  In the story, Jesus heals a man by endowing him with the gift of sight, enabling him to see for the first time in his life.  When challenged by the religious authorities, the grateful man repeatedly affirms Jesus’ divine power and ultimately declares, “Lord, I believe.”  He sees, and he believes.  


We can hear echos of this story in the experience of “doubting Thomas,” our parish patron.  Thomas was not present when Jesus first appeared to his disciples after the Resurrection.  Thomas didn’t believe what the others told him about Jesus being alive until he was able to see, and touch, Jesus for himself. (John 20:24-29)

These days, “seeing is believing” comes with an unfortunate caution.  Advances in technology have brought us a phenomenon known as “deepfake.”  The basic idea, which is all I understand, is that a deepfake is created by digitally combining different images.  The finished deepfake can look so authentic that viewers can be fooled into thinking that what they’re seeing is true.  The effect can be harmless fun, such as if an image “shows” a person on the moon or time-traveling to sail with Columbus.   More sinister would be a deepfake that tries to frame someone by purporting to show them at the scene of a crime.


So, it’s not necessarily true that we should believe whatever we see.  But the flip side is that we don’t have to see in order to believe.  I’ll hazard a guess that none of us has had the blessing of literally seeing Jesus in his incarnated body, but that hasn’t stopped us from believing anyway.  And that’s okay!  Jesus anticipated this:  “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe,” he said to Thomas. (John 20:29)  The company of those blessed, unseeing believers includes us.


This post was written by our Deacon in Training, Mary Cushing

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