Telling the Story
(2nd Sunday of Easter: Acts 5:12-16; Revelation 1:9-19; John 20:19-31)
“Write down what you have seen, and what is happening, and what will happen afterwards.” Jesus says this to John in the first chapter of Revelation and, quite naturally, we assume it refers to the prophetic visions that will be described in the ensuing chapters.
But there are three parts to the assignment, the first of which is “what you have seen.” May this not refer to John’s Gospel and Letters?
The opening of 1 John insists on this: “What we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”
On September 20, 1846, a Sunday evening, Baptiste Pra, Mélanie’s employer, invited Pierre Selme (whose sick shepherd Maximin had replaced for just six days), and Jean Moussier (another man of the same hamlet, Les Ablandens) to come to his house. They asked Mélanie to tell them again what the Beautiful Lady had said to her and Maximin on the mountainside the day before. More importantly, they wrote it down!
They were not well educated, but they were able to translate into French the parts spoken in the local dialect. It was not quickly done. Why did they do this? The only reasonable explanation is that they felt it was important to do so.
They gave their document a curious title: “Letter Dictated by the Blessed Virgin to Two Children on the Mountain of La Salette-Fallavaux.” This shows they understood that this was to be passed on to others. We mean exactly the same when we speak of the message of La Salette.
But let us look at our Gospel. While we may not think that one passage is more important than another, Thomas’s story—absence, refusal to believe, ultimatum, profession of faith—is well worth telling.
It is also a message. And lest we miss that point, John adds: “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.”
The La Salette story serves exactly the same purpose.