St Thomas and Doubt

Sorry, it's been a few weeks since I last posted here. There are three good reasons, firstly I haven't preach a homily since February. Second I have been spending most of my spare time learning to sing the Exultet and lastly I have just left my job and am currently looking for work which is a very strange feeling for me. But on the plus side I have a great deal more time right now so am planning on writting a few of the things I have intended to but never got round to. So keep checking back I hope over the next few weeks to post several new items.

Anyway here todays homily, our Gospel today was so rich it was impossible to say everything I wanted to. You comments as always are aprecaited.
GodBless,
John.

Homily – 2012 Year B – 2nd Sunday Easter
First Act4-32-35
Psalm Psalm 117
New 1 John 5:1-6
Gospel John 20:19-31

I am sure you don't want a half hour homily from me today, but with so much to talk about just from today's Gospel reading I could easily talk for 30 minutes or considerably longer. You will, I am sure, be pleased to know that this will be a normal length homily because I am not going to talk about Jesus breathing the holy spirit into the disciples, I am not going to talk about the institution of confession and the forgiveness of sins. I am not going to talk about Jesus sending out the disciples to continue His work, as He himself had been sent. I am not going to talk about why these were probably the original last words of John's Gospel, and that chapter 21 was added later. If you want to know about those things ask me after Mass, or drop me an email.

Who I want to talk to you about today is a hero and role model of mine, “doubting” Thomas. St. Thomas is remembered for his lack of faith, for doubting the resurrection. In some way you are left feeling that Thomas wasn't as strong as the other disciples, that his faith was weak. But while I think we can learn something from Thomas' mistakes his doubt was not a mistake but something we all have and was one of Thomas' strengths.

Thomas was a brave and faithful servant. He was the disciple that believed if Jesus went to Jerusalem he would be killed, but he went with him anyway. John tells us just before they headed to Jerusalem that Thomas said “Let us go too, and die with him.”John 11:16 Thomas expected to die with Jesus, when he didn't he must have been left lost and confused. I see something quite human in Thomas, a strong man able to do things himself, able to make up his own mind on matters, not often needing or even knowing how to accept help from others. Also, from the fact that he wasn't in the room with the other disciples, we might guess that Thomas preferred to be alone to work through his grief and confusion. This I think was Thomas' only mistake, he left the fellowship of the church just when he needed it, and as a result he missed something very special. He missed Christ's first visit.

By missing that visit, Thomas has to take the word of his friends as proof of the resurrection, and he struggles to do this. It is this struggle we hear of today, and it's this struggle we all go through from time to time. Thomas lets us know it's all right to ask questions, to think about our faith, and when we doubt to challenge.

It is difficult to have faith in today's world. It's a busy complex world where information conflicts and experts disagree. We see so much of the world on a thousand TV channels and a billion internet sites but we witness so little of it first hand, it's difficult to know what to believe. Atheism is establishing itself as a religion, strong belief in the absence of God, no room for doubt, no room for questions about the unknown. To survive in today's world we have to question and challenge, it's good to doubt the facts, it's good to ask questions so we can make our own minds up.

Even here in this church, how strong is your faith, what do you really believe. In a few moments when we all say the creed together will you be confidently affirming your faith, strong in the knowledge that you understand and wholeheartedly believe ever word you say. Or will you be concentrating on getting the knew words right, just reading what is on the card in front of you?

The church, Our Church, is a great teacher, a great communicator. We, as that church, are called to spread the good news, the Easter joy of resurrection. Are you ready to do that, is your faith strong enough? Or do you have doubts? Doubts are OK if you take Thomas as your example, your guide, your mentor.

Follow his example, if you don't understand, if you can't believe something just because someone says so, then ask questions. But also look to what happened when Thomas got his answers. When he believed his first words were “My Lord and my God”. With that strength of belief Thomas served Christ for the rest of his days, non-scriptural texts of the time trace Thomas' mission to India and the building of Christ’s kingdom there among both kings and poor alike.

I started by telling you what I could have talked about but didn't and encouraging you to ask me if you wanted to know more. Now taking Thomas as your example I challenge you to explore your faith, challenge your doubts, and ask questions and most of all find answers.

Don’t' let your doubts separate you from Christ, be prepared to place your hand into his wounds, be brave, be prepared to believe.

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