Second Sunday of Easter (Sunday of Divine Mercy) 2015

The Gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter is always the Gospel of Doubting Thomas[1], a gospel that tackles a problem we all have, doubting our faith.  Yes, you are right: this is the messy side of our humanity. We want to believe, but we are often besieged with doubts. Sometimes we feel very bad about ourselves.  How can I doubt Christ?  Why would I doubt the teachings of the Apostles, or the authentic teachings of the Church?  Well, we need to remember that this is all part of being a human being. We will only be free of doubts when we see God face to face[2].

All doubts ultimately flow from the evil one. The devil placed the first doubts into the minds of Adam and Eve.  So putting a fight against doubts is good work, it is part of our battle against evil. I’ve noticed four areas of doubt where together with the Lord we need to do battle.  There are intellectual doubts, doubts in other human beings, doubts due to the disjunction of our faith and lifestyle, and doubts that flow from the crises of our lives.

First, intellectual doubts.  These would be the doubts we have when our minds refuse to allow us to accept spiritual truths.  So we look at a basic Christian belief, such as the Trinity, and say that it is not possible for there to be one God, but three persons, each God.  Or, how can the Second Person be both fully God and fully man? The problem here is that we are trying to solve eternal mysteries with the finite knowledge of our intellect. Even the greatest mind in the world is limited in the knowledge it can attain on its own. But there is a knowledge deeper than the mind can ever come to. This is the knowledge that is revealed to us by God. If we are full of pride, and refuse to recognize our intellectual limitation, we will not be open to God’s deeper knowledge. Just because we cannot understand something, does not mean that it isn’t true.  As I read the Gospel, it occurs to me that Thomas did not doubt Jesus as much as he doubted the other disciples. After all, these were people full of human failings.  One was a tax collector, making his living stealing from his fellow countrymen. One was a political zealot, domineered by his determination to destroy the occupying Romans by any means possible. Their leader, Peter, had even publically denied Christ.  When Jesus was crucified, all of them, except John, but including Thomas, had abandoned the Lord.  Why should Thomas believe these people? We do this too.  We all doubt in human beings. We hear a message from a priest, and we think of all the failures of priests and refuse to believe the message. We hear an instruction from the bishops, and we deny that they have the moral authority to instruct us in anything. We even question the authority of the Pope, citing the examples of papal immorality from the Middle Ages and Early Renaissance. When we are tempted to do this, we are more concerned with the person who is pointing than what he or she is pointing at. 

Another source of our doubts flows from disjunction in life.  By this I mean the separation of faith and morality.  Some attempt to be people of faith here, but live immorally out there.  That does not work. When people commit themselves to an immoral lifestyle, they soon begin questioning their faith. The evil one wants us to think that they can be part of a believing group while living like pagans.  When we fall for his lies, we end up believing him rather than believing in Jesus. 

These are the doubts that come from crises in our lives. A love one becomes sick, or dies, a marriage falls apart, unemployment or underemployment results in the loss of a house, bad things happen and people cry out, “Where is God?”  No one has the answers to why bad things happen in the world other than to say that all suffer the result of mankind refusing to make God the priority of life.  It is normal for us to cry out in pain, and even to question God.  I am a sure God see the love the person has for those who are hurt by the crises, not a challenge to his existence.  Still, the evil one has his filthy hand even in these types of doubts.  The devil wants us to question God when we need God the most. 

Jesus is our Savior. Savior from what? Well, He saves us from the grasp of the devil. He accepted the cross to defeat the power of hate with the power of love. He was raised from the dead as the first one who would defeat death.  His tells his disciples to proclaim the Good News that sins are forgiven, the good news that all people can receive the New Life of the Lord. He calls us to join Him in battle against evil. The Second Sunday of Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday.  The Lord knows our frailty.  He knows that we are dependent on Him.  He has come to forgive us and strengthen us with the rays of His Grace.

The devil is crafty.  He tries to convince us to use our limited intelligence rather than be open to eternal mysteries. He tries to distract us from the truth by tempting us to focus on those proclaiming the truth.  He encourages us to join the immorality of the world while still claiming to be people of faith.  He even uses those times in our lives when we need our God the most as occasions for us to turn to him, rather than to God. The devil is crafty. He uses our humanity against us. But the devil will not win.  We hold on to the Truth of Jesus Christ. If at times that means nothing more than just telling ourselves, “As the Church teaches; so I believe,” then this is what we must do. We are in the battle for the Kingdom of God. We can defeat the devil. The Lord fights with us.  He is the Eternal Victor!

[1] John 20: 19-31.
[2] 2nd Sunday of Easter, April 12, 2015. Readings: Acts 4:32-35; responsorial Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24; 1 John 5:1-6; John 20:19-31.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris