Homily for April 8

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


There are signs over the doors of our church that read,
 “Come find the peace within.”

In light of today’s gospel
I wish we could change those signs to read,
 “Doubters worship here.”

That would be a good sign to hang for all to see for two reasons:
1) Doubters would know they are welcome
in a house of believers like our own
2) It would be an accurate description
of the people who worship here.

For among the believers there are many doubters
and among the doubters there are many believers.
In fact, and even perhaps in most instances
there’s a mixture of doubt and belief in most people.

Sometimes our belief is clouded by our doubts
and sometimes our doubts feed our belief
especially when true doubt leads to inquiry,
to questioning, to considering more deeply
those things we believe
- or used to believe
- or want to believe.

Sometimes doubt leads to faith
to deeper faith, to stronger faith
- to a more mature belief.

Although it might seem that the antidote for doubt is belief,
I’m not sure that’s what the story of Thomas teaches us.

Consider that while Jesus invites Thomas
to put his finger into his wounds,
his hand into his pierced side -
though this is what Jesus invites Thomas to do
the gospel doesn’t tell us whether or not he did.

Right upon being invited by Jesus to probe his wounds
Thomas immediately says, “My Lord, my God!”
As soon as Thomas recognizes the love in Jesus’ voice,
as soon as he sees the love in the Risen Jesus’ face
as soon as he hears Jesus invite him to the intimacy
of probing his sacred wounds, the scars of love,
- Thomas, the doubter, believes and says,
“My Lord and my God!”

In his doubt, Thomas yielded to belief.
In his doubt Thomas recognized Jesus,
the One whom he had loved, the One who loved him.

What do you and I doubt?  Whom do you and I doubt?
• Perhaps we doubt if there is a God.
• Or perhaps we believe there is a God but doubt
that God has much to do  with our daily lives.
• Or perhaps we believe in God
but doubt that Jesus is the Son of God.
• Or perhaps we doubt what the Church has to say.
• Or perhaps we doubt that what the Church has to say
is the same as what God has to say.
• Perhaps we doubt what we read in the newspapers or online.
• Perhaps even on these cold, snowy April days
we doubt climate change.
• Perhaps you doubt your pastor.
• Perhaps you doubt your spouse, your children, your parents,
your co-workers, your neighbor.
• Perhaps you doubt - yourself.    Perhaps I doubt - myself.
• Perhaps some of us doubt that we doubt.
But I doubt there’s a human being who doesn’t doubt.

Doubt is everywhere.
And of course, belief is everywhere.
And sometimes doubt and belief are at home,
together, in one person: in you and in me.

And if my doubt is real, genuine doubt -
- not just the kind of doubt I entertain
because entertaining doubts might make my life easier -
if my doubt is genuine then it has the possibility, the potential
of leading me to deeper faith, to greater and deeper belief -
if I, in my doubt, am willing to give myself away in love,
if I, in my doubt, am willing to open myself, in love
to the possibility of believing what I doubt.

That’s exactly what happened to Thomas.
In fact, isn’t that just what Jesus did on the Cross?

We heard the story on Palm Sunday and Good Friday.
How, on the Cross, Jesus cried out,
 “Father, why have you abandoned me?”

You can’t tell me that there might not have been a little doubt
in the mind and heart of Jesus.
 “Why have you abandoned me, O God?
Why am I here?  How have I come to this place?
Why am I hanging on this Cross?”

And what does Jesus do then?
Does he wait for an answer?
Does he wait for the Father to prove he hasn’t forgotten his Son?
No.  Rather, he offers himself in love,
when in the next breath he says,
 “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
He offers himself into the hands of his Father
whom he trusts loves him.
And in so doing, he lives, he rises, he is among us
and comes to tell us that even in our doubt
- we can come to believe.
And in coming to believe, even in our doubts,
we come to rise and to live - in love - and far beyond our doubts.

The antidote to doubt is love.

And there is a third reason
why we might hang a sign at the church doors,
a sign that reads, “Doubters worship here.”
Here, Jesus does not offer us the intimacy
of putting our fingers in his wounds
or our hands in his pierced side.
But, rather: here, at this altar, at this table,
the Risen Jesus offers us the intimacy of his Body and Blood,
the intimacy of consuming his Body and Blood
in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist.
in that Communion of belief which is most Holy.

And there’s a fourth reason for the
“Doubters Worship Here” sign.
You see, there are some here who doubt
that the Bread we break and eat,
that the Cup we bless and drink,
become, indeed, the Body and Blood of Jesus.
Some doubt this.

To those who doubt I say,
open yourselves in love
to the love Christ offered us on his Cross
and open yourselves in love to the love he shares with us
in the sacrament of this altar.

Look not for proof of love - for love, of its nature,
is not a problem to be solved or a riddle to be puzzled
or a question to be answered.

Rather, love is proved only
in its willingness to give of itself for others.

Jesus has given himself for us, once on the Cross
and now again, this afternoon,  at this table
he gives himself again
in his Body and Blood in Communion.

So, persist not in your doubt
- but open yourselves, in love, and believe.

And in believing, meet and find the love of God,
broken as bread for you
and poured out as wine for you
in the Eucharist.

Find the love of God
in the Body and Blood of Jesus,
and say with Thomas,
“My Lord and my God!”


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