Here are my thoughts for the “Back Page” on this 2nd Sunday of Easter (Year A), 19 April 2020.
Tradition has it that Nathaniel Bartholomew was the scholar of the disciples. In John 1: 48, he asked Jesus how he knew him and Jesus replied that He had seen him sitting under the fig tree. Tradition has it that Nathaniel was studying the Scriptures and it was that knowledge that allowed him to respond that Jesus was indeed the Messiah.
One might say that Nathaniel was engaging in a bit of inductive reasoning – making a generalization from a set of specific observations. The Scriptures of that time would have held many references to the identity of the coming Messiah and, in knowing what had been written, would have been about to conclude that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. To some extent, then, Nathaniel was theorist, basing his ideas and conclusions on what others had done.
I think that Nathaniel’s friend and compatriot, Thomas, was more of an experimentalist. He needed to see the evidence before making any sort of conclusion. His conclusion that Jesus had risen from the dead comes not from what others said but on what he saw for himself.
But what does this all mean for each of us? Are we theorists or experimentalists? And what does how we see the Resurrection help others? I think that if we are who we say we are, we are experimentalists because it is by what we do that others see that Christ is alive.
Those who say that the only path to salvation is through Christ offer a theory without evidence (and too often, it seems, live lives that belie the notion of Christianity).
But by actively living a life with Christ, we can offer the evidence of what is to come.
So, do you lead a life of Christ that is theory based or experimentally based?