Sunday, April 15, 2012

Thomas: doubter and believer

The Doubt of St. Thomas by He Qi

Homily for the Second Sunday of Easter
(Scriptures for today's liturgy) 

Audio for homily



How about if we all take just a minute
to rummage through the pockets of our hearts and minds
and see how many doubts
we might have brought to church this morning?

Doubts about God… about who God is…
doubts about what God does, or doesn’t do, in our lives…

Doubts about the Church and its teachings and its authority in our lives…

Doubts about the bible, about the scriptures…

Doubts about Jesus and the Holy Spirit
and where they are, or even IF they are, in our lives…

Doubts about what’s right and what’s wrong
and who’s to tell us the difference…

Doubts about how we’re supposed to live
and doubts about life after death…

We just heard the story of doubting Thomas.
In spite of what his friends had told him
about seeing Jesus risen from the dead
Thomas’ doubt was deep enough to lead him not to believe:
as he put it, “I won’t believe, unless…”

Doubt is defined as
uncertainty about the truth, the reality, or the nature of something. 

Uncertainty…
     maybe this is true, maybe it’s false…
     perhaps this is real, or is it all imagined?
     could be this is exactly what we’re supposed to believe and do,
          or does it really make any difference?

Uncertainty.    Doubt.

We live in a culture, which warns us in so many ways:
     “Don’t believe, unless…”
     Don’t believe unless it can be proved…
     Don’t believe unless it can be weighed, examined, explained.
     Don’t believe unless it can be reduced to the capacity
          of the human mind to grasp.

Of course, if we truly lived by those demands,
we would never recognize love, let alone fall in love…

We would never deem anything beautiful
or bother to seek out or delight in what attracts us…

We would cease to imagine, to hope or to dream
for anything beyond the here and now,
for anything beyond our immediate apprehension.

But the human spirit thirsts for love and hungers for the beautiful
and yearns for what is not yet, what is yet to be, what might be,
what we hope will be…

And the human spirit in the heart of a Christian
thirsts for a love that’s deep and will not fail,
hungers for beauty that is true and does not fade
and longs for so much more
than can be imagined or wished…

It’s not that Thomas couldn’t believe, or that he wouldn’t believe.

Thomas chose not to believe, unless… 
Unless he could examine and probe
the nail marks in Jesus’ hands and the wound in his side…

And Jesus does not turn away from the doubter,
does not chastise or reject him.
Rather, Jesus invites Thomas to an intimacy even greater
that what he’d already shared with the other apostles.

Jesus comes again, to see Thomas,
and to invite him to probe his crucified risen self
– and to believe.

And Jesus offers us the same.

So... some questions for us doubters this morning:

• Does my human experience hunger, thirst and long
for what I don't yet have?  for what I've lost?

• Does the Spirit in my heart of faith draw me
to desire a love so deep and great it could only come from God?

• Does the Spirit plant in my soul an aching for beauty
that only the divine might truly satisfy?

• Does the Spirit of God within teach me to yearn for a life where
all is peace, filled with joy, healed and made whole?

Whatever my doubts and uncertainties might be,
I know for sure that my humanity hungers, thirsts and longs
for something so much more than what this world can give,
for something that could only come from God,
for something within my desire
but beyond my full understanding...

It might be helpful to recognize that in the gospel story,
although Jesus invites Thomas to probe his wounds,
we’re not told if Thomas reached out or not.

Thomas gave himself again in love, to Jesus, and believed
not on account of examined proof
but in response to voice of Christ calling him to trust
beyond anything his heart and mind
could know, or hold or understand.

Christ does the same for us this morning,
for us who come with the pockets filled with doubt.

He invites us not only to reach out and touch him,
but even to consume him,
to take him into our selves, in the bread and cup of the Eucharist,
to take in the love and beauty for which we hunger and thirst,
for which we long and hope.

Help us, Lord Jesus, risen from the dead,
help us to be not unbelieving but to believe…


 

   
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2 comments:

michelle said...

thank you-

my doubts are many and sometimes consume and overwhelm me-
I pray so much- please, God, help me-
sometimes I think I am feeling God with me-
and sometimes I wonder if it is just "wishful thinking"-
I think my faith is strong-
I do have a strong desire to believe-
I have a strong desire for the deepest love, the safety, the trust, that only God can give-

but, a lot of times that all seems so far away from me-
or, not so far away, but always just out of my reach-
and no matter what I do, I can't quite get there, and I even slip back-
but, each day, one at a time, I try-
I keep trying...

Austin Fleming said...

It is NOT just wishful thinking - God is always with you whether you experience his presence or not...