Unseen – Jett Villarin, SJ

Easter Vigil 2019

One of these nights you just might see a green beam shooting up from the Manila Observatory here on campus. Actually, light beams are invisible. We only get to see these beamswhen particles scatter the radiation toward our eyes. On a clean and clear evening, you won’t see much green. But it is there.


On April 10 this year, we finally got a picture of a blackhole. Right there at the center of galaxy M87, 54 million light years away from us, we clicked on a massive blackhole, 6.5 billion times more massive than our sun. A blackhole is a gobbler of light and matter. So technically, we can never really see one. But we can infer its existence from the swirl of light and matter around it. Blackholes are invisible but they are there.


We gaze at the night sky, this universe of stars, and we look into ourselves, the wonder of us. And we say all this is the creation of a loving God. We do not see this Creator because of the limits of our vision and the limitless nature of God. And yet we know, yet we believe the Creator is here.


When Israel was liberated from Egypt, they had Moses to lead them through sea and wilderness. They sensed it was the Lord who heard their cries. They never really saw their Redeemer and yet they knew he was there.


When Peter ran to the tomb, he found it empty. The body of our Lord was nowhere to be seen. Even without hearing the words of the angel, he knew and he believed that our Lord had risen and that he was there.


In the most radical move of the Incarnation, the Lord entered our history, two thousand years ago. Since that moment, countless generations, including ours, have believed even if they had never really seen the Lord in the flesh. All we’ve had to go by are words and stories of a handful of witnesses, proclaiming that he is alive. Christ may be invisible to many in this technological and hyperconnected age, but there are those who still choose to believe from in-between the evidence that he is here. 


Every heartbeat is audible to the instruments of our doctor. We can sense that heart working when blood pulses through our veins. But we know better than to reduce our heart to biology. When our heart breaks or when it leaps for joy, we sense something more than just a metaphor, something much deeper, not readily seen. We may never completely understand this mysterious side of our heart, but we know it is there.


Infinity or eternity or even a potential singularity inside a black hole is difficult for us to picture. It is much easier to put a handle on things that have limits or boundaries or expiration dates. Forever can be wishful thinking. Lives that are gone are better presumed to be gone. Lives taken, gone forever. Heaven can be invisible to us. And yet for all our worry and fears of mortality, we know and we believe it is there.


Bread that we hold becomes our Lord’s body for us to receive. Wine that we pour is blood that is shed by the Lamb of God. Blood for our deliverance from sin and death, body that is bread for the journey. Bread and wine we see, body and blood we do not. And yet we know and believe, body and blood are here. 


The Holy Spirit cannot be seen. What is visible tonight is our becoming church, our gathering, here at the Gesu, lights on the altar, candles in our hands, burning against the dark, all of us here coming together to pray to be forgiven, to heal and to celebrate and share the blessings of Easter. We do not see the Holy Spirit, and yet we know that without the unseen life of the Spirit, we would soon scatter and fall out of orbit. We do not see gravity, but we know it is there. We do not see the Holy Spirit’s power to pull us to new life and courage, but we know it is there.  


St Paul, in his letter to the community at Corinth, reminds us to “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor 4:18) Then he adds, we are to “walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor 5:7)  


To live by sight, to live by what we can only see is to live life on the surface. To make our lives depend on sight alone is to miss so much of the depth and layering of reality. When we walk by sight and the superficial security or certainty that it gives us, we make no room for faith and hope and love in our lives. We make no room for God.


On the other hand, to walk by faith is to walk with “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” as the letter to the Hebrews proclaims (Heb 11:1). Let us beg then for the Easter strength we need to walk our lives with the conviction of faith, that we may walk not by sight, but by unseen things that are there.


In some places today, Easter eggs will be hidden from the sight of children. But children will hunt them. Because even children know they are there.


Speaking of children, let the words of Misuzu Kaneko, a Japanese writer of children’s poetry, give assurance to us who desire to walk our lives by faith and things unseen. 



Misuzu Kaneko


Deep in the blue sky,

like pebbles at the bottom of the sea,

lie the stars unseen in daylight

until night comes.

You can’t see them, but they are there.

Unseen things are still there.


The withered, seedless dandelions

hidden in the cracks of the roof tile

wait silently for spring,

their strong roots unseen.

You can’t see them, but they are there.

Unseen things are still there.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Maria P Ilustre says:

    Things unseen like words unsaid are in our hearts. To those persons whom those words are meant for, believe that they are for you.
    Like the love which the Lord has for us, believers and non-believers alike, it is there, seen or unseen but very much FELT.

    Liked by 1 person

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