"A thing can only be received according to the actual disposition of the one who is to receive it." (From introduction to Second Sunday of Advent Mass, Magnificat, p. 112)"Show me the evidence!" This is the shout of the skeptic and unbeliever -- as many of us once were who now believe that the One for whom we wait, in both memory and longing, is the Son of God.
"Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide." (Isaiah 11:3)
"Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones." (Matthew 3:8-9)
It is also sometimes, still, the shout of the believer who is waiting, hoping, crying for evidence that the Father hears her prayers.
But the evidence is not "out there." It isn't in a theory, or in a sign or a miracle.
We are the evidence -- to others, and to ourselves.
A couple of days ago I arrived at my favorite coffee shop when the only seat available was next to a man I'd never seen before who was perched in front of a rather large, fat laptop computer. I set up my own computer and began to work. Fifteen or so minutes later he stood up and began to put on his jacket. "It's chilly in here," he said.
I agreed. He explained that his strategy was to go outside, where it was seriously cold, for a bit, then to come back inside, where it would then, by contrast, feel relatively cozy.
"Plus, I'm gonna have a cigarette," he almost whispered, grinning sheepishly.
When he returned, he told me that two years ago he'd been a two-pack-a-day smoker, but now, as for the past two months, he is a two-cigarettes-per-day smoker. His intention is to reduce that to one per day come January, and to quit entirely sometime in 2014.
Before coming up with this plan, he'd tried hypnosis and a variety of other tricks, with no success. What finally motivated him to follow the path he is now on was a plea from his two-year-old son (who is now four).
As I listened to him share his story, I found myself thinking how all the gimmicks -- all the attempts to trick himself into quitting -- had failed, and what was actually working was a decision of the will -- or rather, many decisions of his will, one day at a time.
He is more evidence to me that when a person loves someone, he can repent and choose to change his life. He will be that same evidence to himself when he wants to make other changes that will improve his life and the life of his family, and perhaps the world. He will know he can do it.
God has nothing to prove to us, because he has already given us all the evidence we need -- our lives and talents, the planet and its riches, one another, and His Son. The rest of the evidence is up to us.