Here is my homily for April 19, 2009 the Second Sunday of Easter. The readings can be found at http://www.usccb.org/ nab/readings/041909.shtml . Thanks for reading and all of your feedback and comments! God Bless - Fr Jim


"There probably is no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."

That was the message plastered on billboards on the legendary double-decker buses in London, England a few months back, a message which launched an atheism campaign that seems to have gained momentum in recent weeks. In fact, while it's still unsure if there’s a connection to those bus advertisements or not, the National Secular Society of the UK, recently announced that they now have over 100,000 people who have either downloaded or purchased a certificate of "de-Baptism." The success of it in England has sparked similar campaigns in Europe, South America. I’m a bit reluctant to ask, how long will it take to reach our shores?

There probably is no God... Now stop worrying and enjoy your life. There’s a bit of an irony here that even supposed "atheists" hedge their bets with a statement like that, isn’t there? There probably isn’t a God . .. We’re not sure... A doubting atheist, what next?

Maybe we have more in common with these atheists than we think. At least in one area - we all have doubts. Doubts about whether we’re all being conned here. Doubts about whether this is all real. Is there a God? Really? Okay, historically speaking there was this Jesus guy, but did he really come back from the dead? Because if he did, then it’s game over folks - then he’s God and we’d be foolish not to follow him. But, did he? Really? That guy Dan Brown with just two books "The DaVinci Code" and "Angels and Demons" is able to throw just enough questions into the mix, just a little more doubt into the equation...Now, who knows what to think, what to believe...

In some ways, it should be comforting to know that we’re not the first ones to go through this. Here we are, the week after we as a Church celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the Gospel we hear is all about doubts. We hear that right from the beginning, people had a hard time with this. Now it’s kind of normal for us to focus on Thomas in this gospel story. "Doubting Thomas" he’s been dubbed for thousands of years. But in reading and praying with this Gospel, something stood out that I hadn’t thought about before. This first time Jesus appears to all the disciples (well almost all, there's no Thomas, remember) they have this incredible encounter, Jesus comes to them, stands in their midst even though they’re hiding out in that locked room. Hiding out because of their fear. He physically shows them he’s alive, he’s not a ghost. "Here’s my hands and my side..." He breathes on them.

But then a week later, the Gospel of John tells us they were again in the room - this time with Thomas - yet, the doors were still locked.

So maybe Thomas wasn’t the only one that should be labeled "doubting." Maybe the other 11 disciples weren’t as believing as we thought. Yeah, maybe some doubts persisted in their minds after all – Maybe the idea that Jesus came back from the dead, while they had all experienced it for themselves - they had all seen Him - they all were given the gift of the Holy Spirit - they had all heard Him give instruction to go forth and "forgive sins" (one of our scripture passages that support confession, by the way) - then, maybe just a few minutes after Jesus disappeared from them again, they weren’t sure what had happened. Maybe they found Thomas to be a voice of "reason," throwing logic in their faces - saying things like- People don’t rise from the dead . . . you’re all emotional . . . do you want to end up like He did? . .. Stop being crazy guys and snap out of it. Let me see the nail marks...

So we read what happens. A week later, it’s a Sunday again. The community of believers, perhaps still doubting (remember the locked room!) but believers nonetheless - and they still come together. Thomas is with them this time - (so he missed Mass the week before, it happens) And what happens? Thomas experiences Christ. The community of believers experiences Christ. And Jesus says to Thomas, "Okay, here I am, put your hands in my hands, and in my side..." Thomas has a physical encounter with the LIVING GOD on a SUNDAY! Thomas is in the true presence of God and Thomas’ heart and soul respond My Lord and my God!

And so it’s been for some 20 centuries since. Imagine that - 20 centuries, uninterrupted we trace back our coming together as the community believers here at this Sunday Mass to that locked Upper Room. For these generations upon generations the believers have kept coming together. Kept worshiping together. Sure, with their own doubts and fears. Yet, the eyes of faith telling them that Jesus would continue to truly come to them, to continue to be really present to them... in the Word... in the Eucharist... in the Church... in one another.

Jesus continues to come to us - as we gather again on a Sunday. His day. He knows that it’s hard in a sense to believe this, which is why he commands us to come together each week. And we find that Jesus meets us in our doubts. Encounters us in our fears. That’s where faith sees how "nothing is impossible for God." I come here realizing some of this doesn’t make sense and I don’t have all the answers - but he does...
I find my mind moving,
I find my heart moving from saying, "There probably is no God"
to the fantastic possibility of, "There probably is a God..."
to the ultimate realization of "There is a God - and he cares for me."

And because Jesus has risen from the dead, defeated death, and promises us his love, his life, in abundance - both in this world and the next - I can stop worrying and enjoy my life.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I think it takes faith to stop worrying and give it all to God. I'm working on that!