Christ is risen!
In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.
Today we remember the patron saint of all believers – doubting and believing disciple and apostle Thomas. He is commonly called doubting Thomas, but I think that title sells him short and does him a disservice. He was a believing Thomas, and exactly because he was believing, he had some doubts. He wanted to believe only the truth, so his doubt helped him find it.
Looking at Saint Thomas, we can make one simple conclusion – if we never had doubts, then we have never believed. I think many of us, if we had to give an honest answer, would say right now that we believe, we have faith. And that may be so. But how many of us would admit that we have some doubts about our faith, some serious doubt?
Again, if we have never doubted, if we have never struggled and wrestled with our faith, then we have never believed, even a bit.
Doubt is a natural part of our life. We doubt that our politicians are honest. We doubt that the weather forecast is accurate. We doubt that we’ll earn enough to retire.
And yet, we keep electing the politicians, we keep checking the forecast, and we retire when the time comes.
Doubt is also a natural part of our spiritual life, of our faith. Thomas had his doubts. Others told him that Christ is risen, but he wanted to make sure of that on his own. He had a witness of the women who came to the empty tomb and some of the disciples, but he also wanted to draw his own conclusions.
In other words, he was wrestling with his faith because he needed truth. We also wrestle with our faith. I don’t think there is anyone among us who does not want the truth. The problem with that is that the truth is not always comfortable, so we avoid it. We tend to dismiss our doubts because we tell ourselves that we believe. In reality, we dismiss the doubts because we don’t want to struggle with the truth.
Yet, we become believers after we struggle with whatever is going on inside us.
As we continue to struggle and wrestle with our faith, let’s take a look at what we are aiming for, what exactly is the truth, what is our faith?
Once, Jesus asked His disciples a very direct question, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15). Who is Christ? The question is not what He has done for us or how nice He is, but Who is He?
To this question, the leader of the apostles, Saint Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16). This is our faith, this is our confession – to acknowledge in the person of Christ the Son of God.
To this Jesus replied, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church” (Matthew 16:18). What the Lord meant was that He was building His Church upon the foundation of the confession that Peter just made. Anyone who makes the same confession, who believes that Jesus is our Savior and the Son of God, has the foundational faith.
Now, Thomas, who said that he will believe that Christ is risen only after sticking his finger into the Lord’s wounds, after doing so, he exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). This is the same confession of faith Peter made earlier. Thomas’ struggles led him to the confession upon which the Church is built.
Now let’s return and talk about what we like the most – ourselves. We know that doubt is good and doubt is necessary, without doubt we don’t believe. And we know that our faith is to confess Christ as our Lord and the Son of God.
After Thomas confessed Jesus to be his Lord and his God, Christ told him that he got it easy, he believed because he saw Jesus. But, blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.
And this is basically us, hopefully. We believe, with doubts and all, but we believe, even though we have not seen Christ physically … but even that is not true. This week I saw a very sobering quote, I even shared it on facebook, because that’s what you do when you see a great quote these days.
The quote said, “I screamed at God for the starving child, until I saw the starving child was God screaming at me.” The point is clear, I hope. Want to provide hospitality to Christ, feed the hungry.
Want to stick a finger into the wound of Christ? Touch and treat the wound of anyone who is hurt. Christ accepted to suffer because He wanted to make all the suffering His. So now He co-suffers with us. Or rather, we co-suffer with Him. And He left His disciples, meaning us, to co-suffer with our brothers and sisters.
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe. We can’t claim ignorance by insisting that we have not seen Christ. Not only that, we have many witnesses to the authenticity of the faith proclaimed and confessed, among these witnesses are the Gospel accounts.
We heard John the Evangelist tell us today that Jesus did many signs in the presence of His disciples after the resurrection, which are not written in the book, but whatever is written, is done so that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through believing we may have life in His Name (John 20:30-31).
We have these texts as witnesses. We have all the previous generations of disciples of Christ, of Christians, including our ancestors, as witnesses to this life in Christ.
So, doubt while looking for truth. Struggle and wrestle with it in order to believe. We are blessed because we have seen Christ suffering, dying and resurrecting for us. We see Him work through us and through others to bring all to life in Him. Like Thomas, may we confess Him as our Lord and our God.