Sunday, April 19, 2009

Second Sunday of Easter

Acts 4:32-35
1 Jn 5:1-6
Jn 20:19-31

Admit it. Go on, admit it. It’s true, you know it is. You just don’t want to admit the truth. It’s really nothing to be ashamed of. You doubt. Occasionally, in the deep recesses of your heart, you wonder, you doubt. I think we are rough on Thomas sometimes just because his story makes us confront our own doubt. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional doubt, the occasional question. It is, indeed quite normal, especially if you take your Christianity seriously. It is, after all, an incredible story. A human being rises from the dead? I’ve never seen it happen, I am relatively certain you’ve never seen it happen, yet that is what we are called on to believe. A human being, yet much more than a human being, lived among us, died a horribly violent death, then rose from the grave, living again, thereby assuring that we who follow, we who believe, will live as well. Thomas did not believe, would not believe, without proof. That is a lot like us. We want empirical evidence, proof that this theorem is true, before we believe that it is. Too often we don’t really want to believe, we want to know. Knowing something is true is not the same as believing something is true. Knowing requires proof, but it does not require faith. The mythologist Joseph Campbell was once asked by a priest if he would believe in a personal God, if he would have faith, if the priest could prove the truth of God’s existence. Campbell replied, if you can prove it, then what need would I have of faith? If we know we don’t need faith. The sun will rise in the east whether I have faith it will or not. The sun will set in the west whether I believe it will or not. I can state with certainty that Christ rose from the dead, but I say this because I believe. I say this because I have the great gift given by God, I have faith. The faith I have tells me this is true, despite the lack of evidence, despite the evidence against the possibility of what I believe being true. Being human, however, I do on occasion question, I do on occasion, doubt. That is when I must, I must, rely on my faith. Faith is what makes it possible to overcome the doubt. Faith is what makes it possible to, without seeing, believe.

Deacon John
The Second Sunday of Easter
April 19, 2009