2nd Sunday of Easter, Year C
Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19
April 7, 2013
Jesus has been crucified. They know the tomb is empty. The disciples are locked in a room. Why did they lock themselves in a room?
It wasn’t for a conclave.
We are told it was for “fear of the Jews.” Jesus has been crucified and the disciples are likely afraid that the same fate awaits them so they hide from the Jews.
That fear is a very real fear but I suspect their fear was more than that. They would have been full of confusion. How could this happen? They thought Jesus was the Messiah. In their thinking, there is no way Jesus would have ended up crucified.
If that wasn’t confusing enough, the tomb of Jesus has been found empty. Jesus is risen but what does that mean? No one had risen before so for now the empty tomb and word that Jesus is risen might only add to confusion.
Confusion and doubt.
Jesus knew how the disciples were feeling. That’s why his first words to them were “Peace be with you.” He knows their hearts are not at peace.
He brings peace.
He also knows they do not understand the Resurrection. He showed them his hands and feet so they could see the nail marks to know that he is not just a ghost but is risen with his body.
Then he breathes on them, giving them the Holy Spirit so that they might understand.
But Thomas wasn’t there. When Thomas hears what has happened he tells the others unless he can touch Jesus’ wounds he will not believe.
For this he gets a bad rap as “Doubting Thomas.” Did he doubt? Yes. In some way, so did the other disciples until they saw the risen Jesus.
If they had no doubt in Jesus, they won’t have locked themselves in the room. They won’t have been confused and troubled by what happened.
Jesus did not give up on the disciples for their doubt and neither did he give up on Thomas. He appeared again to the disciples a second time. This time Thomas was there and when he saw for himself he called out to Jesus, “My Lord and my God.”
No more doubt.
Jesus then says “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
We have not seen for ourselves but we believe in Jesus because of what the scriptures tell us, what the Holy Spirit tells us, and what we believe.
Do we have doubts?
I do. I like to think my doubts are more about what I do myself but they involve God. How do we know God exists? Sometimes the way I know God exists is the simple fact of what I accomplish as a person, a priest, and a pastor. I have NO DOUBT that I could not do what I alone. There must be a God for me to do these things.
Doubt is not denial that God exists. Can we deny God’s existence? Yes but that’s not the same as doubt.
Doubt comes from a lack of understanding. We don’t know why things happen as they do. But we can have this doubt and still believe.
If you look up the word “faith” in a dictionary, you find a definition that says “to believe in what cannot be proven.”
We might not understand. We might not be able to understand but we can believe in faith, trusting in God, seeking his peace.
And when we trust, we find peace. When we don’t have all the answers, we can try to find answers but in faith we trust.
Do we have doubts? Sure, hopefully they are minor and based on simply not understanding but trusting.
When does “doubt” become a problem?
I think there are two key points to knowing when doubt is a problem. First, if our doubt leads us to reject the faith and the existence of God or to think that God might exist but doesn’t care is problematic.
I’m not talking about doubt for just an instant moment like in tragedy. We turn that over to God. That doubt comes from not understanding but we can still believe in faith.
The other point when I see doubt as a big problem/sin is when doubt puts us behind locked doors that keep us from acting. This looks like the doubt we see in the disciples in the gospel. Note for them, it is not the end. They still have faith and in that faith, Jesus comes to them.
What doubts do you have? Is it real unbelief or a lack of understanding to be handed over in faith?