Acts 2:42-47; I Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31
Dear Friends! Every aspect of our lives demands faith. On the natural level we have faith in an airline to get us to our destination safely. We have faith in our spouses to put family before all other considerations. We have faith in the police, the Fire Company and emergency workers to help us in times of crises. We put our faith in our doctors, nurses, and pharmacists when we are not feeling well. On the supernatural level we put our faith in the bible, in the Church and in our God to care for us.
One week after Easter, today’s readings confront the fundamental ingredient of all religion, faith. All of our celebrations presume having faith that there is a God who loves us, that he sent his Son to be one of us, that his Son suffered and died for us, but was raised from the dead and shares eternal life with us. We have faith in the Resurrection of the Lord even though we have not experienced it ourselves. Our faith is based on the Word of God in Scripture and on the Presence of God in his people.
But we are human beings. We are often tempted to doubt. Sometimes we doubt deep theological matters, like dogmatic teaching on the Virgin Birth. Most often, though, we doubt regarding very practical every day matters. In times of crises we often doubt the Love of God. Everyone doubts. It is part of the human condition. Even people who claim to have great faith and who go around the world searching for miracles are often seeking a proof for faith. That is not faith. Faith is simply trusting in God.
The Apostle Thomas is presented as a human with doubts, very much like you and me. He is often labeled as doubting Thomas, but the evidence in India would suggest he doesn’t deserve this label. It seems fairly clear from historical evidence that Thomas was in India from 58AD until he was martyred in 72AD. The Church in Southern India was founded by him, and he is supposedly buried in Madras now known as Chennai the capital city of my state Tamilnadu at the Church of St Thomas. It is a high hill where he used to go and pray and lived in a cave nearby. We the Missionaries of St. Francis de Sales have a house on this hill. I have been to this cave where St. Thomas lived and murdered for the cause of Christ. If you get a change to go to India don’t forget to visit this place. If I am in India I will be glad to take you to this place. Well, the question we need to ask today is: what was it that drove Thomas to leave all he knew and travel a vast distance and die for the cause? Certainly it was his faith in the Risen Jesus. So was he Thomas the doubter or Thomas the doer?
It is not that he didn’t trust the Lord. He didn’t trust the other disciples. Thomas could not believe Peter, James, John and the others’ stories that Jesus had risen from the tomb. He doubted that Jesus would use them to convey his truth.
The words that Jesus addressed to Thomas were meant for all of us: Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
We have not seen, but we believe. Yes, there is a part of every one of us that doubts. Yes, there are times that we question, particularly when a loved one becomes gravely ill or dies. But we still believe.
In the second reading St. Peter also addresses us: Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
You and I need to pray for faith every day of our lives. We have been exposed to the deepest mysteries of God. We have been called to the sacraments. We need to pray for the faith to accept the sacraments. Faith is the one gift we can be sure of receiving if we ask the Lord. Blessed are we who have not seen but believe.