Second Sunday of Easter 2018 (b)
‘…anyone who has been gegotten by God has already overcome the world; this is the victory over the world – our faith’. This is what St John says in today’s second reading. Faith is therefore something we should never take for granted, but it can be easy to do.
People ask me every so often if it is wrong or even sinful to doubt. Well, look at Thomas in today’s gospel. He doubted. He refused to believe even though everyone else was saying that Jesus had risen from the dead, that they had seen him. For Thomas it was impossible; he wanted to believe but he had seen Jesus die, and much as he wished that he was still alive he couldn’t believe it. As a result, we call him ‘doubting Thomas’; and we use this in our language; when we call someone a ‘doubting Thomas’, we mean they do not believe us.
Is it wrong to doubt? No, not necessarily. We see what happened to Thomas after he believed, when he eventually saw Jesus for himself, he said, “My Lord and my God”. That’s not doubt that’s faith. He went on to live his life in faith and even died a martyr. In many ways Doubting Thomas is an example to us, not for his doubting but for the way he lived, a life of faith after he believed.
Are we doubting thomas’? It is not wrong to doubt. Like Thomas we have been given brains, and God expects us to use them. He doesn’t expect us to have blind faith. In other words, when someone believes because someone else has told them to. People can grow up not with their own faith but with that of their parents. They have rightly but perhap blindly accepted their parent’s faith, never thinking about it for themselves. What Thomas teaches us is that it is not easy to believe. Remember it wasn’t just Thomas who refused to believe; the disciples refused to believe Mary Magadalen, also, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.
I am sure that like me you have met good people who do not believe in God. People who live good lives, are honest and kind; you could say they are everything a christian should be but without faith. When you meet these people you want them to believe; and some can’t understand why they don’t. And yet they don’t. Rather than wondering why they don’t believe we should give thanks for our own faith.
My faith is a gift. It is not something I should take for granted. My parents gave it to me, then one day I owned it for myself. I should always try to appreciate the enormity of my faith and what it means. My life now doesn’t make sense without my faith. It gives meaning to my life.
Do not be put off by your doubts. It is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it can be a sign of confidence. I believe but I am surrounded by people who don’t. I/we live in a secular society that has pushed God to the periphery; to believe in God today is almost counter-cultural, at least in the UK. So I must be grateful for my faith. And pray that I will never lose it. On the contrary that it will grow.
Jesus last words to Thomas were not just for him but were directed to us; “You [Thomas] believe because you can see me. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe”. That’s us. Lord, we believe, strengthen our faith today and everyday.