Homily for April 3

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Cope Amezcua

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

Audio for homily

So, are you a doubter or a believer?
Or maybe there are both doubt and belief 
in your heart, in your mind and in your faith.

Indeed, there are two ways for us to look at Thomas.
In Western Christianity, we know him as “Doubting Thomas”
but in the Eastern and Orthodox churches,
he’s known as “Thomas the Believer” - and rightly so.

There’s no string of gospel stories
showing a history of Thomas doubting things – it’s just not there.
He was an apostle, a close and faithful follower of Jesus.
Thomas was a believer before he was a doubter
and his doubt led him to even deeper belief.
In the whole of the New Testament,
Thomas is the only person to address Jesus with the words,
 “My Lord and my God!”

So what happened? 
What caused Thomas to doubt?
I wonder: might it not have been the painful, inglorious death of Jesus,
condemned and crucified as a common criminal”
It wasn’t supposed to come to this.   It wasn’t supposed to end this way.

So the other disciples’ reporting that Jesus had risen
did little to generate fresh faith and trust in Thomas’ heart.

I can’t help but wonder if,
when it comes to questions of faith,
there aren’t many, today, who, like Thomas,
have a history of strong faith and belief
but who, like Thomas,
find themselves saying, for one reason or another,
It wasn’t supposed to come to this…  
It wasn’t supposed to end this way…

Perhaps it’s the death of a loved one,
or of someone very young,
or of someone you’d prayed for -- for a long, long time...
It wasn’t supposed to come to this…  
It wasn’t supposed to end this way…

Perhaps it’s the death of a dream,
the failure of a good plan,
or a dashed hope:
It wasn’t supposed to come to this…  
It wasn’t supposed to end this way…

Or perhaps it’s the death of a promise:
a pledge, a word given, a marriage.
It wasn’t supposed to come to this…  
It wasn’t supposed to end this way…

Thomas’ stance that he would not believe
without seeing and touching Jesus’ wounds
may have been as much an expression of disappointment and anger,
as it was a demand for tangible proof.

In fact, although Jesus offers Thomas
his side for probing and his wounds for touching,
there’s no evidence that Thomas followed through.
Rather, his immediate response is his confession of faith, his belief,
 “My Lord and my God!”

What  Jesus helped Thomas to do
was to confront the death-dealing wounds and the pierced side,
to look at his loss, to accept his loss and to see
that even if it wasn’t supposed to have come to this,
even if it wasn’t supposed to have ended this way,
there is, indeed, life, again - even after death.

What are the deaths, the losses, the hurts, the disappointments,
the failed plans, the broken promises, the dashed hopes
that lead us to doubt,
that sap and weaken our faith - yours and mine?

If we persist in our disappointment,
in our anger and our hurt, our doubt:
what comes of that?

If we cease to believe, to trust, to hope,
what deeper loss might eventually be ours?

Do we need to look into the wounds of our own hearts
pierced by what we thought would never come,
and there, in the loss,  in the wound,
watch for the presence of Jesus and listen for his voice,
calling us to believe, to trust again in him,
with a faith stronger than death itself?

As surely as Jesus returned to the upper room
to strengthen Thomas in faith
so he comes today, to this place, looking for each of us, too,
to strengthen our faith when it’s failing us.

This day, at this altar,
Jesus comes again and stands in our midst
and sits at our table, his table,
offering his divine mercy.

He invites us not just to reach and touch his wounded Body,
but rather to receive, to take into ourselves
his gift of life-stronger-than-death,
the gift of his life and mercy
offered to all who will believe in him, who see him and say,
"My Lord and my God!"

We all believe, Lord: help our unbelief!


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