For a full copy of the Newsletter for the Second Sunday of Easter please click on the link; 2nd Sunday Easter 080418
Last week’s Gold Lotto payout was 4.25 million. If I were to tell you I won the first prize payout I am sure you would be happy for my good luck. But would you believe me? Would you want some sort of evidence of my good luck? Perhaps to see the winning tickets? After all, the odds of me winning are pretty remote; would it not be reasonable to ask to see my bank statement? “Unless I see the winning ticket” you might say to me, “and hold the jackpot cheque in my hand, I don’t believe you”.
It’s only logical to be sceptical at my claim to be the newest millionaire in Brisbane. Sure, every day we have to make decisions about what we believe. But our decisions are usually made based on some sort of concrete evidence. We are rational people – that is, after all, how God made us!
Each year, on the following weekend after Easter we hear from John’s Gospel and his well-known story of doubting Thomas. There is something very appropriate in hearing about this all too rational disciple.
‘Have you believed,’ Jesus asks Thomas, ‘because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.’ This famous verse can make us feel very good about ourselves as we sit in our pews. After all, we have not seen Jesus, and yet we believe; how much more blessed are we than Thomas, one of the twelve, who didn’t believe until he saw the risen Christ in the flesh. Thank God we’re not like Doubting Thomas!
But we should not write Thomas off too quickly. Faith is such a notoriously slippery customer. Belief is difficult to understand and even more difficult to grasp because it seems to come and go. For this reason, people are either afraid of faith or of not having faith. We spend a lifetime asking ourselves what we should do to gain it or make it grow in strength. Why does it seem to come easily to some people and not to others?
Most of us hang onto our faith because we have seen a glimpse of the risen Lord. In our daily lives we occasionally experience something that speaks of God. Words are never adequate in describing this experience. The memories of these experiences linger in our hearts and it is precisely these memories that we can’t let go of. We believe, and that is God’s gift to us.
So, when we hear today Jesus commending those who have not seen and yet believe, remember he does not stipulate how strongly you have to believe but simply that you believe. We remain Christian because we believe. We remain Christian because we hang onto those glimpses of God we have experienced in our lives. What matters is not how much or how strongly we believe but that we do believe.
Perhaps we are more like the apostle Thomas than we realise! Perhaps it is sometimes through our doubt that we also gain faith!
Fr Peter Brannelly
PS: I didn’t win the Lotto first prize!