“A man is not really convinced of a philosophic theory when he finds something proves it. He is only really convinced when he finds that everything proves it.” – G.K. Chesterton
A Jewish scholar who became a Christian and who knew the Old Testament very well and all of the traditions of the Jews, said that at the time of Christ the rabbis had gathered together 456 prophesies concerning the Messiah, the Christ, the conqueror of evil who was to be born and to enter into a new covenant with mankind. Suppose the chances of any one prophesy being fulfilled by accident, say the place where he would be born, was one in a hundred. Then, if two prophesies were fulfilled, the chances would be one in a thousand. If three prophesies were to coincide in Christ, that would be one in ten thousand. If four, one in a hundred thousand. If five, one in a million. Now if all of these prophesies were fulfilled in Christ, what would be the chance of them all concurring at the appointed moment, not only in place but also in time, as was foretold by the prophet Daniel? Take a pencil and write on a sheet of paper the numeral 1 and draw a line beneath it. Under the line write 84, and after 84, if you have time, write 126 zeros. That is the chance of all of the prophesies of Christ being fulfilled. It runs into millions and millions, trillions and trillions. – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (“Through The Year With Fulton Sheen”)
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.”- Acts 2: 1-4
Jesus promised that after His Ascension He would send the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, to His Apostles. And along with the arrival of the Holy Spirit came an illuminating and complete understanding of Jesus. (In the words of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: “Just as the Son has revealed the Father, so the Holy Spirit reveals the Son.”)
In another dramatic fashion, that understanding also descended upon Saul, a persecutor of Christians. To coin a phrase: He was blinded by the light; literally, while on his way to Damascus. When He recovered from this life changing experience, at the hand of his savior, Saul’s sight was restored beyond the physical. For it was now Paul, not Saul, who emerged from the traumatic but transfiguring event. Essentially, Christ having heard the cries for mercy from His followers rescued them from the merciless Saul by sending the merciful Paul. The persecutor of Christians is now the protector of Christ’s Church.
The Apostles of Christ were like Saul; not sharing in his hatred, but in his doubt. Saint Thomas, alone, was proof of that. He would not believe in the Resurrection unless He was satisfied with physical validation. For Thomas, seeing was believing. The Apostles never truly understood the significance of the Resurrection. If they had understood, they would have been at His tomb awaiting what Jesus had promised. Yet their doubt scattered them and sent them into hiding. Even though Jesus appeared to them and, as well, to many others on a number of occasions after His Resurrection, the apostles still were not completely convinced. For they returned to their professions. Only when the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost was their understanding of the Resurrection complete, and their doubt vanquished. So convinced were they then, that they feared not even death in spreading the Good News of Christ. And through an immeasurable faith worked wonders in His name.
The Jewish scholar was a doubter too. I wager that his original purpose in the study of the Old Testament and Jewish traditions was not to prove but disprove Christ’s true nature. But, as scientists of various disciplines will attest; many theories are proven true by the failed attempts to prove them false. This Jewish scholar, influenced by the common sense of first principles, could not help but come to the reasonable conclusion that Jesus is who He claimed to be; the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. So convinced was he by his findings, that he, too, took up his cross and followed Christ.
Whether knocked from a horse by a blinding light, or having one’s heart enkindled by the perfect love of the Holy Spirit, or persuaded by common sense reason, many have come to divine understanding. Those who permit themselves to be overshadowed by the Third Person of the Holy Trinity are blessed, for they will find what they have been seeking their entire lives; the way, the truth and the life.
For in knowing Christ, who is all-encompassing, we know not one truth, but all truth. Therein is well placed our conviction.