St Thomas and Doubt

This homily is from 6 years ago.Just working out what I am going to say this Sunday.
God Bless,
J

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.

Stepping out of our Church - A walk for the mission of the Church

As the disciples were sent out into the world, so are we, particularly in this year of mission. This Palm Sunday weekend Deacon John is on a mission, walking between all our parishes in communion, to demonstrate in a physical way that we are one community with a mission to bring Christ out of the church and into the world. Along the way there will be services of Morning Prayer and the Stations of the Cross as well as Sunday Mass. You can also join John and walk the last 5 miles between St Augustine’s and Our Lady of Lourdes from 2pm on Sunday afternoon.

The route can be found here: https://goo.gl/maps/no67Sb6Mzek



You can help by sponsoring John, not with money, but with your prayer and actions, turn over for ideas of thing you could do.

Start Time
Where
What
11am Sat 24th March
St John Fisher
Morning Prayer
2:30pm Sat 24th March
St Pauls
Stations of the Cross
5pm Sat 24th March
St Laurence
Mass
6am Sun 25th March
St Laurence
Morning Prayer
9:30am Sun 25th March
St Augustine’s
Mass
1:30pm Sun 25th March
St Augustine’s
Stations of the Cross
2pm Sun 25th March
Walk St Augustine’s to Our Lady of Lourdes
Join Deacon john for a 5 mile walk
5pm Sun 25th March
Our Lady of Lourdes
Stations of the Cross
6pm Sun 25th March
Our Lady of Lourdes
Mass

In this year of mission I am going to sponsor Deacon John by:

I am going to pray for:
  •            for the sick
  •            the homeless
  •            refugees
  •            those in power our leaders and bankers
  •            those in prison
  •            people trapped in modern slavery
  •            my friend, colleagues and family

I am going to invite a friend to Church
I am going talk to colleagues about Easter
I am going to come out on the soup run or volunteer to prepare food
I am going to drop something in a food bank box
I am going to write to my MP about something that matters in my faith
I am going to get to know my neighbours
I am going to learn more about my faith
I am going to find out about and maybe join groups in a community like the UCM, Catenians, SVP, Not so Young, Justice and Peace, etc
Something else:


Homily – 2018 (2015 & 2012) Year B – 6th Sunday Ordinary Time


This morning was quite emotional as I added to the end of this homily the experiences on the Soup Run last night. It's the first time I have seen people cry at the homily.

Audio now added, the whole thing is about 10 mins long, the last 2 minutes are not typed up below but added spur of the moment. The image of a lepar being beaten of with a strick just resonated so much with the man I met on the soup run the previous night I had to add it.
God Bless, J on 12th Feb 2012

Sunday 12 Feb 2018 - Homily on 6th Sunday Ordinary Time Year B

Readings
Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46
Psalm 31: 1-2, 5, 11
1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
Mark 1:40-45


[All these readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks. Remember to scroll down for the readings of the day.]

Leviticus is a fascinating book, it can also be tedious and dull. Today we get to hear a little of both. If you followed today's reading in the missal or looked in detail at the bulletin you will find that there are 42 verses skipped in our old testament reading. These verses go into considerable detail on identifying skin diseases, burns, spots and even baldness. The next few verses go on to describe in similar detail how to identify mould and rot in clothing and fabric. It's a great insight for us to the way the Jewish people looked after themselves.

Contagious diseases could have a horrible effect on a people living closely together. They didn't have our level of medical care and quarantine was there only way of controlling the situation.

Closely woven into the thinking of the people of 2-6 thousand years ago was the connection between illness and sin. It wasn't directly stated that if you were ill you were being punished by God for your sins, in fact the story of Job tell us that they are not connected, but people often thought they were.

When you add the loneliness of quarantine to the spiritual loneliness of being punished by God you can imagine how bad it was for someone developing leprosy and being sent to live apart from their friends and family. Also add to that the pain and debilitating effect of leprosy and you have a situation that no person should ever have to endure.

It is a man in this situation we meet at the start of the gospel reading. He however is not keeping his distance and is not covering his mouth and shouting “Unclean! Unclean!” The normal reaction would be for the person he approached to beat him away with a stick. The leap of faith he is taking is extreme, you can only imagine the level of news and rumour that had reached him about Jesus, that inspired him to such faith.

Next we see an exchange of faith and love that almost brings tears to my eyes. The man steps forward, kneels and says “If you want to you can heal me.” Jesus touches him saying “Of course I want to!” At which point he is healed.

Can you imagine being there and seeing that exchange. If it happened today how long before the world knew about it via twitter. The Six O’Clock news would be showing mobile phone videos of the leprosy melting away. A million people would know within the hour, a billion within the day.

How did Jesus expect the message not to spread. Yet he hoped it wouldn't, he didn't come to become famous, He came to spend time with us, He came to teach us, He came ultimately to save us. The fame in many ways got in his way, towns and villages became so choked with people he couldn't even enter them. He was forced into countryside where people had to come to him.

Today's picture of Christ shows us a gentle man. A caring and loving man. Someone who has time for everyone, who loves everyone. Who loves the leper and outcast just as much as everyone else. Paul takes this picture of Christ as his model. Paul sees Christ as a man who puts others first, who spent his life putting peoples needs before his needs. Paul is convinced this is the way to live and he is teaching by example.

Paul was writing to the Church in Corinth but his letter to that church is as relevant to us today as it was to the Christians 2000 years ago in Corinth. It is easy for us to get upset with other people because of the way they think or act. When we get upset we can get sharp with them, or ignore them. Either way how can we spread the gospel if we push people away from us.

During his early ministry Christ wanted to get close to people, families and communities. He wanted to teach them not only by preaching but by example. The fame surrounding him hampered this and he asked people not to tell of the miracles he performed. That changed on the cross, his mission accomplished, he needed everyone in every time, to know Him, to understand Him and to learn of His message. That's why Christ sent Paul, and that's why Paul sent the Corinthians, and that's why you are sent today.

I have never met anyone with leprosy, but I meet lonely people and sick people all the time. Some I can give practical help to like the homeless we meet on the soup run. Some people I spend time with just listening to them. Some people just simply become friends. I seldom lead with direct Christian teaching, although sometimes when I think it's appropriate I do. Mostly I try and be helpful, I try to care, I try to give them some time. I know I don't always get it right, I can get angry and frustrated with people and I can drive them away. Sometime I am to wrapped up in myself and I don't even notice them or their needs.

I wish I was like Paul, with the faith to say follow my example. I am not, but I do try to follow Paul's example and Christ's example. And that is my challenge to you this week, try to use Paul and Christ as your model. Try not to be offensive to anyone, try to be helpful to everyone. Try put put others, not yourself, first. If they see Christ in you, they can meet him personally, and once they open up to Christ and ask if he wants to help them, you know he is going to step forward with open arms saying “Of course I want to!”