Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Doubting Thomas!
Increasingly, it would seem, we live in an age in which trust has become a scarce commodity; consequently, a little bit of the apostle Thomas has rubbed off on each of us - "Unless I can see and touch - I will not believe"! All of our readings today touch on this attribute of belief and mutual trust which characterised the early Christian communities.

Acts: 2: 42-47
The reading from the Acts of the Apostles details how this spirit of trust and belief expressed itself in the pooling of resources to be shared by all.

1 Peter 1: 3-9
St. Peter, in his letter, recommends belief in the Risen Christ as a source of strength in the face of the trials encountered in everyday living.

John 20: 19-31
Accepting Christ, or not accepting Him, is the choice each person has; and it is not the person who has the opportunity to see who necessarily believes most readily. In the matter of religious faith, one can see, but not necessarily believe; and another may believe without actually seeing. This Gospel account, undoubtedly, was written to encourage those within the early Christian community who felt disadvantaged because they had not known Christ personally.

Point 1: We all have our moments of doubt and uncertainty - should we quit our job and try a new one? Should we marry? Should we break from an unfulfilling relationship? Trade in the old car on a newer model? Buy a new house in a more upmarket suburb? How to discipline an unruly child? How to answer the same child's baffling questions? There are a number of reasons for our uncertainty and indecision - in some instances it is simply lack of will power; at other times, it is lack of information. To counter this uncertainty, the market place is full of spin doctors, motivational speakers and gurus of every shape and colour willing, for a huge fee, naturally, to free us from these debilitating doubts that hold us back from becoming decision making dynamos.

Point 2: The matter of religious faith is no different. People waver and falter - to believe or not to believe. Here, too, we have a vast assembly of experts, and not so expert, one of whom you are listening to at this moment! offering opinions on the importance in a person's life of trust and belief. Although we live in a scientific age, faith still plays a great part in informing people. For sheer convenience, if for no other reason, a lot of our information is based on faith. We simply do not have the time or the energy to investigate everything to see if those who are informing us are, in fact deceiving us. Whilst we maintain a healthy scepticism about much of what we read and are told, only the unbalanced try to be sceptical about everything. Life simply cannot be lived that way because trusting others is built into the human condition. To live without trust implies living without truth.

Conclusion: This brings us to the point of today's Gospel. Thomas was up against this problem - to believe or not to believe. To avoid the risk of having his leg pulled, he set fairly stringent conditions for his acceptance of the Risen Christ. These conditions were accepted; but, then, Thomas backed off, and his capitulation has left us with a formula of faith never to be surpassed -"My Lord and My God".
Practically, when we talk about religious faith, we tend to regard it is a single, cut and dried fact - we believe or we do not believe. Actually, for the great majority, it is a leap into the unknown that must be renewed frequently in life, as the implications of Christian commitment constantly unfold to one's understanding. Questioning, is an integral part of growth. All the great names in religious history - Moses, David, Peter, to mention but three - were challenged in their faith, and, for the majority, the challenge resulted in a strengthened acceptance.

Scriptural reference: [Isa 12:2] Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the LORD GOD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.