Sermon 20th Sunday

20thSunday of the Year ( C ) 2019

Jesus speaks of a family of five:  Father & Son, Mother & Daughter, daughter in law & mother in law are divided.  This means the Father and Mother are united; and the son & his wife are united. … Glad someone is!

Most families experience some kind of division. Sometimes due to the in-laws but not always. Long before in-laws come on the scene siblings can fall out. How many funerals and weddings have I been to where one member of the family hasn’t been invited. Too many. 

What causes these divisions: there can be several reasons: but you will find the root of the problem is pride. Someone insulted me and I won’t forgive them. And that goes on for years. What was once a fall out can, over the years, become a chasm dividing siblings and friends. Sometimes the division has lasted so long that no one can remember what the original problem was. 

The Christian is someone who tries to mend divisions. This takes humility and a lot of courage. Humility is the opposite of pride, which is why it is such a precious virtue. The Christian will be one who is willing to say sorry. Now there can be nothing harder in life than saying sorry to someone  you have offended or who has offended you. Our pride will fight against this. It will argue: why should I? I didn’t start it? Let him or her come to me why should I go to them?  It wasn’t my fault it was theirs. … and so on. There is always a reason why I shouldn’t say sorry.  

The problem is that in all relationships we will make mistakes. No one gets it right all the time. As a Christian I must be prepared to acknowledge my mistakes and if I have offended someone then I should ask for forgiveness. Also, if someone asks my forgiveness I should readily accept it. Surely a good marriage, a good friendship, will grow when people ask for forgiveness. I know that when someone says sorry to me they shoot up in my estimation. 

If we don’t say sorry then we will have that kind of family Christ spoke of in the gospel; a terribly divided family. And what kind of example is that to others? Children will grow in love and confidence when they not only hear their parents say they love each other, but also when they ask forgiveness of each other. What a wonderful example this is to the children.  A family home is like a school: it is there that children are prepared for the future, and particularly for future relationships.  

Don’t let pride destroy your family relationships. In a good Christian home you will hear the word ‘love’ said often, but you will also hear the word ‘sorry’. The Church and the world need the example of a good Christian marriage. 

Sermon 19th Sunday

 19thSunday of the Year ( C ) 2019

‘You too must stand ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect’. This sentence is a bit heavy; bit like a threat. Usually, these kind of readings we get at the end of the year when the church focusses on the last things. But this is summer, we’re supposed to be on holiday, sea-side, sun and sand, eating ice-creams that sort of thing. However, real life can come even when we are on holidays.  I remember being on a beach. I noticed a group of people around a man lying still on the sand.  It seems he was dead, a heart attack or something. Someone left the group and came to a phone near why I was, so I could hear the conversation with this man’s wife. The caller told her that her husband had had an accident and had been taken to hospital. This poor woman had no idea that when she got to the hospital she would find her husband dead. 

So even though we are at a time of summer holidays I suppose what the gospel is saying to us is always be ready.  We can spend our lives getting ready for something or other. Getting ready for work, for school, for an appointment. Right now I am getting ready to go on the Camino de Compostella next month. Some of you may know about the Camino, it’s an ancient pilgrimage through Spain to the tomb of St James, in Compostella.  

Truth to tell I have been ready for the last month. I have made a list of everything I will need: a map and a guide book, these are essential, the right kind of clothing and especially footwear, toiletries: a torch for walking in the morning before light; a good hat, sun tan lotion, plasters for blisters. I’ve bought euros for the daily expenses.  I’ve yet to get insurance; I must do that before I leave. Then I am ready.  

‘The Camino’, as it’s called, is like a pilgrimage of life. You could call life a journey or even better a pilgrimage. And we should always be ready for that pilgrimage. However, what we need are not guide books and clothing, euros and insurance, but other things, things that will last. On our pilgrimage through life we need first and foremost faith and trust in God: better than any map or satnav. With this faith and trust you will never get lost, you may take the wrong turn now and again, but you’ll never get lost. Then fill up your rucksack with virtues; beginning with kindness: be kind to people as you journey through life; even those who are not kind to you; this will be your heavenly insurance. Put also in your rucksack generosity; be generous and the Lord promises that He will overlook our innumerable sins: just as well. Be compassionate: as you journey through life you will meet other pilgrims who will be suffering and far worse than blisters: many people you meet will have heavy crosses to bear; your compassion will make that cross lighter.  You will need the sacraments; this will be your food, your nourishment to keep you going, especially when the journey gets tough. And finally, don’t forget to put prayer in your heavenly rucksack. It is prayer that will keep you in touch with your heavenly Guide. Prayer will always keep you on the right road. 

            In this way we shall be ready for life and even for death. It is now we prepare for death; not by being morbid, but by living in such a way today, that if tomorrow never comes we will be ready.  

16th Sunday of the Year

16thSunday of the Year ( C ) 2019

Martha and Mary were sisters. They were also friends of Jesus. When ever he was in the area he would call in at their house. He loved to do this because of their friendship and hospitality.  This gospel of often misunderstood, in my opinion: Jesus isn’t saying Mary is better than Martha. Look at the scenario. Jesus has been out ministering all day. He comes to his friends’ house, he is tired and hungry.  Martha prepares the food for the meal while Mary listens to him; she sat down at his feet. Now just suppose Martha also sat down at Jesus feet. Remember Jesus is tired and hungry. After a while what do you think he would say? I don’t think he’d say oh thank you ladies for sitting at my feet and listening to me. No. Surely he would say: “Oi, I’m starving! Whose going to prepare the meal?” or words to that effect. 

Notice what Jesus criticizes Martha for, he says: “You worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one”. He criticizes her because she worries and frets about so many things.  But isn’t she like so many of us. Don’t we all worry and fret about things. Who doesn’t worry and fret about money, or the lack of it, or about our health of someone else’s? Who doesn’t worry and fret about the world we are living in; global warming, the environment, the violence in our society; just to name a few things. Is it wrong to worry? Is Jesus saying that we lack faith because we worry. No, I don’t think so. Notice what he says to Mary, notice the last words: “Martha, Martha, you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed, only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part”. Notice that: ‘It is Mary who has chosen the better part”. And what is Mary doing? She is listening to Jesus. 

The problem we have with worrying is that we get absorbed in the worry and can think of nothing else. I rang a friend of mine up recently, he had had a heart attack. When I spoke to him I said “you don’t sound very worried”. He said “I’m not, my wife does enough of that for both of us”.  But isn’t it true: when you are something you are worried about it can be that it takes over your whole existence. You wake up in the morning and straight away are worried. You go through the day and can’t think of nothing else. Then at night you take sleeping pills because your worries keeps you awake. It becomes the be all and end all of your being. But as Christians we are not meant to worry like this. 

Jesus doesn’t tell Martha to stop working; he doesn’t say: come and sit at my feet and listen to me. He just tells her to stop worrying. He tells her in the midst of her worries to listen to him. My sister likes to listen to BBC radio while she’s washing or ironing. She is doing two things at once. It isn’t a problem for her. But in a similar way this is what Jesus is saying to us: “in the midst of your worries listen to me. Don’t be so absorbed in your worries that you forget all about me. I am here at your side to help you, to lighten the burden. Can you not hear me calling to you?” 

So tonight when you mothers and wives are slaving over a hot cooker and your husband and children are sat down watching the tv, don’t complain to them. Complain rather to God who is with you. In the midst of your troubles and woes listen to him. 

My Homily 15th Sunday

15thSunday of the Year 2019 (C )

The Good Samaritan felt compassion for the man who had been robbed and left half dead. He didn’t know him. He’s never seen him before, but his heart went out to him. So he stopped and went out of his way to help the man. We may wonder why the others didn’t stop. We’re told the priest passed by on the other side: what was he doing?  Maybe he was in a hurry to say mass somewhere, which of course came first, at least in his mind. Then the other man, the Levite, he too passed by on the other side. What was his excuse?  Maybe he thought it was a trap. And he was too smart to get caught like that. These are both understandable excuses: we’ve all been there, especially being in a hurry: ‘no sorry, can’t wait. I’ll say a prayer…’

The Good Samaritan on the other hand felt sorry for this person; he stopped what he had to do in order to help this person in distress. His heart would not let him pass by on the other side. And Jesus praises him. You know, the Good Samaritan is a bit like God; God is compassionate too; in fact, God is compassion. He looks on us and feels sorry for us. Jesus knows what it’s like to be human. ‘Compassion’ means to suffer with.  It is one of the most beautiful of all Christian virtues.

If you have been unlucky in life then you have been beaten up. Sadly this kind of thing does happen. However, in spite of what we see on our tv’s and newspapers it is quite rare. Most of us will go through life without this having happened to us. But what we won’t avoid is another kind of injury. By that I mean when we beat up ourselves. Now that might sound like a funny thing to say but there are people who do this, not necessarily literally but in other ways. There are people who self-harm because they want to punish themselves for something they’ve done wrong. 

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t done wrong; and some people I know have done really bad things. Often they feel bad about what they’ve done and proceed to beat themselves up. Some forgive themselves but there are too many people who don’t. They continue to beat themselves up in one way or another for the rest of their lives. 

Now God looks on such people and weeps. He has compassion on them. He knows of what we are made. He knows we make mistakes. He knows that we are sorry. He doesn’t pass by on the other side. He wants to bind up our wounds; He wants to embrace us and tell us that all is forgiven, that He understands; this is because He is a God of mercy. So it pains God when people who are hurt turn away from Him. They can’t forgive themselves, and believe, that God won’t forgive them. 

God is the Good Samaritan. He binds up all our wounds. What we may not realize is the joy that this gives God. His compassion is such that he feels our pain, but He has the power, through his love, to heal us, to make us whole again. 

My homily 14th Sunday

Fourteenth Sunday of the Year 2019 (Cycle C)

“The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest” (Luke 10:2).   This has usually been understood to mean that we should pray for more Priests.   But, have we understood it correctly?

I ask this because we know that God answers our prayers.   And yet in this case our prayers don’t appear to be answered.   Vocations to the priesthood have been declining since the 1970’s.   When I first went to the seminary there were about one hundred and twenty students for the priesthood.   But when I went to visit it recently I saw that there were about twenty-five.  In about twenty years the number of students had dropped by two thirds.   

This shortage of vocations has had an effect on the Roman Catholic.   Many of you will remember when there was a Parish Priest and a Curate, sometimes more than one.   Some large parishes had as many as six Curates.    Today few Parishes have one nevermind six curates. Most of my priest friends are now running two parishes.    

You can understand why the Church urges us with to pray for more vocations.   “The harvest is rich but the labourers are few’.  So we pray with greater urgency.   I am the vocations’ director for the Carmelites in England and Wales.  I have now been doing this job part time for three years and full time for two. We use the social media a lot, because that is how most inquirers learn about us. We have our own webpage dedicated to vocations, created a video. We have also organized what we call ‘Come & See’ days, attended conferences, gone on pilgrimages and even walked the Camino.  I can say that we have never worked so hard for vocations.  And not only us but the Church generally is now really focussed on vocations to the priesthood and religious life.  But our prayers do not appear to be answered.   

What is the problem?  Why aren’t we getting more vocations?  Why aren’t more labourers coming forward to help with this bountiful harvest?   I suggest that they are, only they’re not just priests.   When the Lord was spoke of  “labourers” he didn’t mention that they had to be priests.  He didn’t say, “send priests to his harvest” did her, but rather, “send labourers to his harvest” “Labourers” can be priests but they can also be people like you, people the Church calls ‘the laity’; you too are being called to the harvest.   And it is already happening. 

More and more Laity are doing studies that were once reserved for Priests.   Some are studying theology at University.   A few are studying alongside students for the Priesthood in seminaries.  An increasing number of laypeople are as well educated in scripture and theology as many Priests. 

I see more and more dedicated laypeople working for the Church: as Catechists, Eucharist Ministers, Readers. In my last parish we priests never touched the money; all the money from the masses was counted by our parishoners and banked by them. We had a parish secretary who probably did more ministry than we priests.  I have become aware that an increasing number of Laity have a sense of vocation and some are dedicating their lives to working for the Church. 

Now all this is happening while the number of Priests is declining.  Is this the end of the ordained Priesthood: are Priests are dying breed?   No!  The Church needs the ordained Priesthood, and we must continue to pray for more vocations.   But the Church of today needs dedicated Laity just as much.  

“The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest”.   Well, He is doing this.  Our prayers are  being answered.  Only the “labourers” will not only be Priests.   God is asking you, the non-ordained Laity, to work more and more for the Church: to help those overworked labourers who have been working alone for too long.   We’re all in this together.

My homily for S. Peter & Paul

Solemn Feast of Sts Peter & Paul

The Bishops of England and Wales thought this feast was so important that they moved from yesterday, which was 29thJune, to today. It really is that important. Today the Church honours two of its most important saints. The are the foundation stones upon which the Church has been built. Had they got it wrong the Church would have collapsed a long time ago. 

They were not supermen; they were ordinary people like you and me. I saw this as a given fact but I realize that it is hard for many to see them as ordinary; surely, they are saints and that makes them extraordinary; besides, they are not just ordinary Saints they are Peter and Paul; the two pillars of the Church. And yet, I repeat they were ordinary people; but what made them different is that they believed in an extraordinary God. Look what the Lord do for St Peter when he was in prison. The Jewish authorities are determined to try him and then execute him. He is the big fish that they wanted to catch; and now that they have him they are take every precaution to see he cannot escape. They four squads of four soldiers to guard him in turns: each takes six hours. While he slept there was a solider to his right and to his left. There were two more soldiers at the main entrance. His hands were fastened with double chains. The authorities were taking no chances. It was impossible for him to escape. But he did escape. It was a miracle; an angel sent by God set him free. Peter himself couldn’t believe it; he thought he was having a dream. 

Imagine the effect this had on Peter. With God on His side no one, no force, no power, no authority could stop him preaching the Gospel. We know that Paul also felt the power of God to save him out of trouble. He told Timothy in his letter, ‘The Lord will rescue me from all evil attempts on me, and bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.’  Like Peter he learned to put his faith in God. And it was because of this faith that these two men achieved such great things. They would be the first to say: it was all God’s doing. 

Later we read in the Gospel how Christ praises Peter then makes this promise to him: “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it.” What confidence this gave Peter to know that God in Christ was behind him, supporting him, giving him the help he needed when he needed it. 

Both men died as martyrs; they chose to die rather than deny their faith. They were not supermen, they were ordinary people who believed in an extraordinary God. If they were here today they would want to repeat that: “we were not supermen, but we believed in an extraordinary God”. This is the God that we believe in. We know we are not supermen and women but like Peter and Paul, we too can put our faith in Him. For he wants to do great things in us. We have Peter and Paul are role models. Let us follow in their footsteps. 

Trinity Sunday (2019) They say that when a priest thinks he can explain the mystery of the most holy Trinity, it is a sign that he is going mad!… So, this could be a very short homily, if I can’t explain anything about the mystery of the Trinity. To seek some help I looked up two words in my dictionary: mystery and trinity. ‘Mystery’, says my Collins, complete and unabridged dictionary, is ‘any truth that is divinely revealed but otherwise unknowable.’ ‘Otherwise unknowable’, not much help there. And the word ‘trinity’ is defined as, ‘the union of persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in one Godhead.’ That was more helpful, but I wanted to know more. And who better to ask than a child. I was visiting one of our catholic schools, a class of 7-8 year olds, who’d just had their first holy communion. I asked the class of about 30 children, put your hands up who can explain the trinity. Immediately, and without hesitation most the class put up their hands. ‘Please sir, please sir’. So I asked one lad at the back. I quickly realized that though he had his hand up he couldn’t remember the answer. So I asked the girl beside him, she said ‘God is Trinity, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, all three are God but they are one.’ I congratulated her for her good answer. Then I asked how do you describe the Holy Trinity. Again the same number of hands shot up. There was a lad sitting right at the front whose right hand was so high it was almost touching the ceiling. So, to save him from doing any damage to himself I asked how he would describe the Trinity. Delighted to be asked he replied, ‘Well, there is God the Father on the top. He’s an old man with lots of wrinkles, he’s very bald and has a long white beard. In the middle there is the Holy Spirit, he looks like some kind of white pigeon, with his wings outstretched. Then at the bottom is Jesus, he’s like the father only younger, he has all his hair and a dark beard.’ Good, I said. I then asked them a third question: who can tell me what binds the Trinity together. “Glue” one lad shouted out, and everyone laughed; obviously the class comedian. “A triangle”, said a second. Good, I said, I could see where he was coming from. No one seemed to know so I asked the question another way: “what is the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”? A girl in the front who said, ‘love.’ Yes, love. Well done, I told her. What binds the Trinity is love; they love each other equally. You see, if you want to know something just ask children. God, the Trinity, remains a mystery which I cannot explain, but I do know something about love, we all do. But do we love each other equally? Isn’t our love for each other often one sided. Often, I think it is true to say, a mother’s love is like this. It can even be sacrificial, in other words, she will sometimes give up things for the sake of her children, or work for them without complaining. Take, for example, a mother-son relationship, where the son is a teenager. I look back on my own teenage years and I blush with embarrassment. In my late teens I would come home expecting my tea to be ready and the ironing to be done, ‘cos I wanted my shirt ironed, as I was going out that night. This is sacrificial love or, a one-sided love. When we love like the Holy Trinity, as we are called to, the son would get home before mum, having bought flowers on the way, he does the ironing and put a quiche in the oven. I may have got a few sons into trouble for this, but you get the point? There is a difference in the two types of love; we are called to love like the Trinity its not one-sided; we love equally. Yes, it is true we don’t understand the mystery of the Trinity, but we do understand love. It is, however, something we live imperfectly. God is love. The Trinity is love, where the three persons love each other equally. The Trinity is our model. We are called to love in the same way, equally. What a beautiful world it would be if we could only try to be less selfish and love more.

7th Sunday of Easter

7thSunday of Easter 2019

            I sat down this morning and thought what am I going to say to the people today.  It’s the 7thSunday of Easter, the Sunday before the great feast of Pentecost and it’s all good news. But I have to honest with you, I find it much easier to talk about bad news than good news, to talk about sin rather than virtue. Sad, I know!

            But then I read the gospel a second time, nothing had struck me the first. On the second occasion something did strike me quite clearly; two themes that were repeated over and over again: unity and love. I suppose love we have come to expect but unity? Less common. Christ’s prayer to his Father is, “May they all be one”, and he repeats this prayer three times. So it’s obviously important to Jesus.  And so I ask: are we one?  Listen to Christ’s prayer, he’s almost pleading: “Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me”. And so I ask again: are we one? Are we one so that the world may believe?

            Isn’t it one of the most difficult things in life to be one, to be united? There are so many things that can and do divide us. Take Brexit for example, it has caused so much division within our country, and even within our families. Three of my siblings are pro-brexit and I am anti-brexit. When I play golf with one of my brothers I try to avoid the subject, because we argue and it becomes personal.             And this is how divisions begin. One sibling take offense and refuses to forgive. How many weddings and funerals have I been to where certain family members don’t turn up, or are not invited?  If it’s not Brexit dividing us it’s the legacy from a will, or relationships or in-laws that have become outlaws.

            That’s where the other virtue I mentioned comes into play. Remember I said there were two themes in today’s gospel, unity and love. Just to remind you what Christ said about love, “I have made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them”.  If we only realized that the love we have been given by God is strong enough to overcome all our divisions. It’s not just any old love; it’s Christ’s love for us. He loved till it hurt; in fact, he loved until he died. 

            Such love cannot tolerate division. It wants to overcome whatever divides and it is prepared to suffer to do that. If we are to overcome our divisions then we have to overcome our pride. We have to be prepared to say “sorry”.  This is probably the most under used word in the English language. We hear love all the time. How many of our pop-songs are about love. You can read endless books about love. Almost every other film we see is about love. But what about forgiveness and that word sorry?  

            We cannot avoid falling out with people, especially those we are closest to. What takes courage, what takes guts, is to say “I’m sorry. Let’s not fall out”.  It takes courage because when we say “sorry” we make ourselves vulnerable and the other may reject us. We should never reject someone who says sorry. Yes, it can be so difficult to mend division.  But unless we do we remain divided. Don’t let Brexit divide us. Don’t let family quarrels divide us. Don’t hold on to grudges. Don’t let pride have the last word. Pray for the courage to say sorry. If you love as Christ asks you to, then you will be prepared to do this. “Father, may they be one is us, as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me”.  

Sermon 3rd Sunday of Easter

3rdSunday of Easter 2019

This is my favourite description of the appearance of Christ after his resurrection. Those of you who have been to the sea of Galilee or Tiberias, will know what it’s like. But even if you haven’t you must have some idea of what its like beside a lake. Now the lake in this case is called a ‘sea’, because it’s so large. 

It’s interesting to think that the last time they saw each other it was in faraway Jerusalem and in terrible circumstances. But what were they doing back here? Back in their own land, back in the north?  They were fishing?  Do you sense the tone in Peter’s voice, when he says, “I’m going fishing” and the others, all seven of them say, “we’ll come too.”  Peter, like the others, is devastated by what had happened in Jerusalem. Their hope that Jesus might be the messiah had been dashed to the ground, destroyed, it had all been a big mistake. They had believed in him, had left everything to follow him. He had been someone who had given them so much hope. But then Good Friday happened. And it all went so terribly terribly wrong. 

“I’m going fishing” was a way of saying: I must do something to take my mind off what’s happened; I must do something otherwise I’m going to go crazy; I need to fill the emptiness I’m now feeling.  The others, all seven of them, were only too happy to go with him. But they caught nothing that night. I don’t think they cared; it was better than sitting at home thinking about what had happened.

The sun was coming up, as Jesus stood upon the shore. Mornings, when the sun is shining, are beautiful. This particular morning was going to be more beautiful than any other.  Notice who recognizes Jesus first: ‘the disciple Jesus loved.’ He told Peter “it is the Lord.” And Peter’s joy knew no bounds. He couldn’t wait like the rest to row into the shore. No, big hearted Peter, had to jump into the water. His heart burning within him: it was the Lord. What a transformation in mood: from darkness to light.

He would never again say “I’m going fishing”, and the others never again say, “we’ll come with you.” No, from now on, they will become fishers of men and women. Their despair had turned to hope, and that hope will never disappear. Can you imagine the joy they experienced as they all sat around that charcoal fire eating that breakfast, with the gentle breeze, the waves lapping, the sun shining, and now a fire burning in their hearts. 

Homily for 2nd Sun of Easter

Low Sunday 2019

Thomas is known as “doubting Thomas”.   His name has passed down into our language: we say of someone who won’t believe that they are a “doubting Thomas”.   But I think Thomas is a most valuable person.   In many ways he represents many of us.   Thomas could be called a sceptic.  He refuses to believe what the others tell him: that they have seen the risen Christ.

Thomas would obviously like to believe this but he can’t.   No doubt he thinks they are mistaken.  He does not care how many of them say they’ve seen him.  Hehasn’t and that’s all that matters to him.   

Now I’m sure Thomas isn’t always like this.   That normally he will believe people who tell him things.   That he’d believe someone if they told him that Jesus body had been stolen; or that the Jews had destroyed the body.   But what he cannot believe, what he adamantly refuses to believe is that: this man who had died was no longer dead!    As far as Thomas is concerned they are all suffering from mass hallucination, or something.   We can have the same situation today when some people say they have seen an extraordinary vision, of the Blessed Virgin Mary of something, but most people don’t believe them. .   

I think we owe a great deal to Thomas.   What he is showing us is just how hard it is to believe in the Resurrection of Christ. It’s all right for us 2ooo years later. We’ve the benefit of all that history, and all those people who’ve testified to Christ’s resurrection; and some of them have even died as martyrs rather than deny this truth.   But isn’t there a danger that we all just take it for granted.    How many of us have thought it through?  How many of us have wondered what it must have been like to have been there?   How many of us can really understand why Thomas refused to believe the others?   

Some might argue that we don’t have to imagine all this.   Why should we?   We’ve the evidence and we know it’s true and we know that not only did Christ rise from the dead but he also ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father.    There’s no need to agonise about whether he rose from the dead or not?   Is there?   

I suggest that you don’t have to but it will help.   Putting ourselves into Thomas’ shoes helps us and helps our faith.   It helps us to appreciate the enormous mystery that we are asked to believe in.   And I do think that there is a real danger that we do take this for granted.   We may even be critical of Thomas for his attitude, for his lack of faith that had we been there we would have believed.  But before we condemn Thomas we need to recall that after Thomas saw Christ for himself he did believe.   Not only did he believe but it changed his life.  For the rest of his life he bore witness to the resurrection of Christ.  He even died a martyr because of this faith.   

It is good to ask ourselves: “has the fact that Christ has risen from the dead changed our lives?”  Has it changed our lives in the way that it changed Thomas’?    Or is it something that we believe, like a lot of other things, but that’s as far as it goes?    

 We need to contemplate the mystery of Christ’s resurrection.  We need to feel the awe that the others felt; we need, too, to sense the joy when they saw Christ; and experience the peace at his presence.   And if we do these things; if we pray in this way, then the resurrection will make a difference in our lives.

Thomas doubted but came to believe.   We believe but maybe we’ve got doubts; or maybe we’ve simply never thought about it; we just take it all for granted.    If the people of our secular and cynical generation are to believe then they’re going to need some convincing.   The more convinced we are, the easier it will be for others to believe through us.   Those who first saw the risen Christ and testified to that fact are now dead; now it’s our turn to tell the Good News.