Homily for April 23

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

Audio for homily

The awesome power of doubt in our lives…
This weekend, hundreds of thousands of people
in Washington, DC and 600 other American cities
will participate in the March for Science.
Why a March for Science?
The March is, in large measure,
due to some governmental policies and funding decisions
rooted in skepticism and DOUBT regards the validity and veracity
of scientific research and its findings.

Thomas, the doubting apostle in today’s gospel story,
knew nothing of the debate on climate change
and had nary a notion about funding
the Environmental Protection Agency
or the National Institute for Health.
Nor is this homily taking aim at one side or another
in the political conversation about such issues.
I only raise the example of the March for Science
as evidence of the power of DOUBT in our lives and in society.

But how about you and I take just a moment this afternoon
to rummage through the pockets of our hearts and minds
and see how much doubts -not about science, but about faith-
how many doubts you and I
might have brought to church with us today?

• Some among us may have doubts about God… about who God is…
what God does, or what God doesn’t do, in our lives…
doubts about whether, indeed, there is a God…

• Others may have doubts regarding the Church and its teachings
and its authority in our lives…

• There may be doubts about the scriptures,
their origin, their meaning and their truth…

• Or doubts about Jesus and the Holy Spirit  and who they are
and where they are, or even IF they are in our lives…

• Some may have doubts about what’s right and what’s wrong
and who’s to tell us the difference…

• Others may have doubts about how we’re supposed to live our lives
and doubts about life - after death…

• Many of us might have come here today with a lot of self doubt:
doubting our worth, our value, our reason for being…

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 ran deep enough to lead him to choose 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. 

maybe something 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 any of it really make any difference?

Uncertainty…    Doubt…

We find ourselves counseled in so many ways.
 “Don’t believe, unless…”   Don’t believe unless it can be proved…
Don’t believe anything unless it can be weighed, examined
dissected, quantified and explained.
Don’t believe anything 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.

The opposite of doubt is not proof -
the opposite of doubt is faith, is hope, is trust.

If we needed proof for everything
we would never fall in love,
never deem anything pure or beautiful,
never work to delight in what attracts us…

If everything needed proof
we would cease to imagine, to hope or to dream
for anything beyond the here and now,
for anything beyond our immediate comprehension.

But the human spirit thirsts for love,
hungers for the beautiful and yearns for what is not yet,
what might be, what is yet to come
for what we hope and trust 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’s true and does not fade
and longs for so much more than can be imagined - or proved.

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 or prove,
for something that could only come from the mystery of who God is,
for something well within my longing and desire
but far beyond my proving or my understanding...

Jesus did not turn Thomas away
- nor did Jesus turn away from Thomas, the doubter.
He didn’t chastise or reject Thomas for his doubt:
he doesn’t chastise or reject the doubter.
Rather, Jesus invited Thomas, a doubter, to an intimacy even greater
than what he’d shared the week before with the other apostles.

It might be helpful for us to note that in the gospel story,
although Jesus invites Thomas to probe his wounds,
we’re not told if Thomas did, in fact, reach out and touch Jesus.
When Jesus offered his hands and side for Thomas to touch,
we only know what Thomas said:  “My Lord and my God!”

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

Christ does the same for us this today,
for us who come to church 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.

Pray with me:
Lord Jesus, Jesus risen from the dead,
help us to be
not unbelieving - but help us to believe…


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