Homily For Easter 2 B – Preached by Br Luc

Scripture Readings

br luc

Good Morning and a very Happy Easter to you!

The beauty of Easter is that we celebrate it for a very long time and intensely. First we have the Octave, which is an eight day celebration of this great event in the history of creation with the same solemnity as the resurrection Sunday itself, followed by at least six weeks(42 days to be precise) of what we call Eastertide to allow the message sink. The gospel readings during this period are passages that deal with one or the other account of the appearances of the risen Lord

Today’s passage majors on Thomas, popularly known as the doubter but was he really? Humanity has a way of putting labels on people based on perceived negatives at the expense of the numerous positive or good things the same individuals may have done. If we follow scriptures closely, slightly before Jesus went to Bethany to raise Lazarus, shortly after the Jews attempted to kill him by stoning and the disciples were cautioning him about it, it is Thomas who is quoted declaring… “Let us also go that we may die with him” (John 11:16). That right there is courage even in the face of death but instead of Thomas being called the ‘courageous one’, all we seem to remember is the doubt. Thomas is portrayed as a person who operated from the mind or experiential knowledge level and therefore had to see in order to believe. Some preachers make Thomas sound like he wanted to believe but his mind or intellect, or call it want of empirical knowledge, kept him from following his heart in what it desired.

All the disciples were talking about the resurrection and the sightings of Jesus immediately after the early morning visit to the Tomb by Mary who reported the event to Peter and the others and together with John, Peter ran to the tomb to see for themselves. Then there is the disciples who were on their way to Emmaus who encountered Jesus and returned to Jerusalem at night to report the encounter… They all seemed to have believed but why was Thomas doubting? Well in defense of Thomas, and myself and all the other honest doubters out there, he was not the first or only one to doubt. Peter and John, the most eminent members of Jesus’ inner circle, had doubted and ran to the tomb when the women first brought the good news. But before we get deeper into this, a few questions first.

Where was Thomas when Jesus appeared? What took him from the community that day? Was he out on personal business or on community business say fetching food? Had they had a quarrel and Thomas had gone out in protest or had gone to cool down? As is usual with the gospels, they are very economical with details and therefore we will never know why Thomas was out. The truth though is that these early followers of Jesus were human like us and they too just like us did not always get it right.

Getting back to the “doubting” Thomas, did he really doubt Jesus…did he doubt the resurrection or was he doubting his fellow disciples? Put your self in the shoes of Thomas for a minute. You are out, Jesus comes, breathes his Spirit on the others, the Spirit of courage and peace but when you return, they are still locked in the upper room in fear. They were behaving the same way they were before he left, no indication in their way of being that they have encountered the risen and living Lord!

It is very possible that the story in our gospel passage today is not so much about Thomas’ disbelief but about the failure of the other disciples to act out their experience or encounter. This becomes our challenge today my dear brothers and sisters. How do we witness? Will those who come to us seeking the risen Christ experience us as moving out into the world as people convinced of what we believe in? What would they learn about being Christians by observing us? Our behavior, our way of being, our way of treating others and our communication, even and especially the non-verbalized communication, says a lot about our level of faith or convinction.

An Anglican(Episcopal) theologian and social justice activist called Verna Dozier has the following to say about doubt:

Doubt is not the opposite of faith; Fear is. Fear will not risk that even if I am wrong, I will trust that if I move today by the light that is given me, knowing that it is only finite and partial, I will know more and different things tomorrow than I know today, and I can be open to the new possibility I cannot even imagine today.”

Thomas may have had doubts yes, but he refused to surrender to fear which kept the rest of the disciples locked up in a room. He both ventured out and had the courage to return. He returned to face a community which had had an experience he did not share but insisted on his own experience. When the risen Christ again returned and Thomas was there, Christ did not criticize or belittle him. Instead, he affirmed him in his doubting and helped him move beyond the doubt to Faith.

Doubt is not a bad thing entirely, especially for us monastics. It is nothing to be ashamed of. It is okay. It is a part of life. Having doubts about our faith or about anything is nothing in itself to be ashamed of or to be escaped from or to hide from. God does not require us to be doubt-free to be His followers. What God calls us to, is to be people who have the ability to stop and listen. People who are able to question and to learn so as to grow. God calls us to a realization that we do not know and to discover what it is that we do not know. I am not trying to praise doubt here, especially the cynical kind of doubt that manifests in disbelief in everyone and everything. The doubt I am speaking about here is the inner-directed kind of doubt that makes us aware of our own limitations and keeps us on the path of discovery; the journey of faith in Christ.

If we become too self assured in our life of faith and even in life in general, we become un-teachable. We become fossilized in the past forgetting that religious life just like our jounery of faith and life in general is dynamic. I have encountered in my life some religious and Christians who are so entrenched in their ways and are so afraid of or threatened by change that they never agree to, or consent to change in whatever way or form and woe to you if they are in positions of authority! They are paralyzed by the fear of the unknown. That’s how some religious orders and churches have gone into extinction. The firmness with which a person holds to a belief is not a reliable proof of its correctness. A passion of belief can disguise the truth just as surely as it can lead to the truth.

You and I have Thomas as our icon. We have inherited the stories of the risen Lord, and Jesus says we are blessed for having believed without seeing, but at some point we must insist on our own experince of Christ. In this sense, Thomas becomes for us a symbol, not of faithlessness but of courage. Courage to trust that there are no doubts so deep that God cannot answer. Courage to believe that Jesus cares enough to show up a second time, a third time to infinity, just for my and your sake, to breathe life in me and you! Courage to risk it all and venture into the unknown for the sake of the Kingdom of God whose agents we are.

Times of doubting do come and will come for all of us. The good news, however, is that doubting can become a positive help. As growth can at times come through pain, so too can faith come through doubt. The most important thing is to move through the times of doubt to moments of decision and if we have been honest in our doubts, our decisions of faith that come as a result will be more honest, firmer and certain, and the more commited we shall be in our journey of faith. Mature faith does not come from, or is not entirely based on, a totally blind decision, but is something reached at by a process that moves beyond emotional connection. It comes from being able to navigate the distance between the mind and the heart which may look like a flash of a seconds activity but actually takes a lifetime, because it is always to and fro.

Let us pray this morning that we may have courage to face our doubts so that we may at last come to a decision of our faith, a mature decision that Jesus is indeed the Risen Lord, and like Thomas declare Him our Lord and our God; and that this truth may be actively and constantly affirmed in our lives through word and action.

1 thought on “Homily For Easter 2 B – Preached by Br Luc”

  1. Eleanor Sulston

    Thank you Br. Luc, for blessing our periods of doubt and reaffirming them as times of growth in our ongoing faith journeys . I think many of us need this affirmation.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top