Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hypothetical Homily for April 11, 2010

Ah, the Easter season, when the liturgy of the word is taken almost exclusively from the New Testament. Hey, at least we don't have an epistle from Paul this week!

The readings for this Second Sunday of Easter have a theme of belief through proof running through them. First, in the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we see that Jesus' disciples performed many good works, and many more people came to follow them. Then we harken back to an Old Testament Psalm praising the Lord for his miraculous works. The second reading from Revelation establishes John's credibility as an evangelist and aptly introduces the story of Doubting Thomas, from the Gospel of John.

Thomas, who was absent when Jesus first appeared to the apostles after the resurrection, didn't believe them and therefore required proof.

Honestly, put yourself in Thomas' place. Your teacher and friend has just been executed and buried, and then your friends tell you he's come back. Really? Yeah, sure, dudes.

So then Jesus calls Thomas' bluff and offers crucifixion wounds for the poking. If that isn't adequate proof for Thomas, I don't know what is. Jesus then says, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."

Now, the Gospel of John was written much later than the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, long after any eyewitnesses from Jesus' days had passed. This episode of Doubting Thomas does not appear in the other three gospels, either. John's audience had not seen, and the gospel was written so they would believe.

But is it really so bad to be a Doubting Thomas? Is it really so bad to question, to seek proof? All the other readings for today contain proof: miracles, visions, the stone which the builders rejected becoming the cornerstone (it would take a miracle to get that one past a San Francisco city inspector).

One hallmark of Ignatian sprituality is finding God in all things. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius are instructions for meditation, prayer, and reflection, all for the goal of discerning God in all aspects of one's life. With this openness to the Holy Spirit, the divine becomes apparent everywhere.

I have only once had a taste of that Ignatian awareness of God's presence. Perhaps that's why I hold the Jesuits in high esteem.

These meditations are a form of questioning and seeking. Finding God in all things is the proof. Belief follows.

And, you know, blind faith ain't so bad, either, I guess.

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