MANY OTHER SIGNS NOT WRITTEN


Christ the source of resurrection and life.(From an Easter homily by an ancient author): An article from: Catholic Insight
Catholic Homily/Sunday Reflection
Octave of Easter / 2nd Sunday of Easter
April 11, 2010


Hiding, fear, wounds in the hands and side, locked doors, absence, doubt … these negative sounding words simply seem to stand out of today’s readings like sore thumbs. Not much of a good material for good news, you say?

Indeed … so it seems, for modern people like us always want things clearly laid out on the table for certainty and security. We want things written down all the time in black and white. We want agreements and contracts written in a way that obliterates even a scintilla of doubt. We want clear proofs. We want to be sure of what we are getting ourselves into each time. Everything must be spelled out clearly and unequivocally. Ever wondered why people who intend to pull a fast one on you put certain stipulations in fine print?  Ever wondered why it is precisely the fine print one ought to read if you don’t want people to pull a wool over your eyes so they could get away with things easily?

Let us face it. There is a whole lot of hiding in the world today. Some people (most people in Christian Philippines) hide their real incomes from government to avoid paying taxes. Many people are petrified by fear now that terrorists seem poised to strike anytime at innocent people with all the force and destructive fury that their demonic hatred could muster. Many people are left wounded, bruised and battered by so much suffering most of them caused by conditions and situations they have no control over. Homeowners (including pastors of churches) now feel unsafe if they leave their doors open during the day. The uncertainty of the times has caused us to be locked in and thus, absent, that is, not fully present to the world and to one another. The doubting disease has worsened dramatically ever since doubting Thomas uttered his famous words: “Unless I see the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

I do not know, nor want to speculate here the reason for Thomas’ absence (some people say he was too frightened himself to surface and venture out of his hiding place). But we do know that he eventually surfaced. And as a pastoral counselor, I know of one more sure thing. Thomas acknowledged his doubt. Thomas did not hide his unbelief. Thomas was honest enough to tell his fellow disciples that his faith meant more than just a facetious and shallow acquiescence or thoughtless agreement to what others tell him.

Thomas wanted to see the “fine print.” Thomas was an avid and passionate searcher for the truth. He was not to be one of those who claim instant overnight conversions that, like the flowers of the field, are here today and gone tomorrow. His doubt was not the doubt of a perpetual skeptic, who believes in nothing else and no one else but himself. His doubt was not like the doubt of the despairing man who sees no hope, nor meaning in the world and to life, in general. His doubt was more like that of a searcher who would not leave a stone unturned to verify his belief in a mature sense.

The world that we live in is mired in so much uncertainty and doubt, even as it reels under the ever darkening clouds of fear and insecurity all over. Mainstream liberal media are all out to pin down the Holy Father and crucify him on the cross of popular – albeit misguided – opinion! Cynics and critics of the teaching authority of the Church and Her magisterium abound, even among those who are supposed to defend her – from both extreme sides of the spectrum – the ultra conservatives who think that Vatican II was the work of the devil, and the ultra progressives who think that the Holy Father and his teachings still date back to the Middle Ages! In the middle are a handful of “soft-liberals” who always have a thing or two to say against whatever pronouncement comes from the Vatican, ranting and raving because GIRM (General Instruction on the Roman Missal), for example, has changed the term lay “Eucharistic Ministers” to “Communion ministers.”

In this second Sunday, so called Octave day of Easter, among many other things, we are reminded of a great lesson that comes from one who has been receiving a bad rap for so long – Thomas the doubter. Thomas shows us that there is only one valid way of resolving that doubt. That way is not through hiding behind a thin veneer of religiosity that is heavily “made up” by mere rituals and “religious acts.” That way is not by hiding completely, keeping oneself cooped up in one’s private, personal religiosity that goes direct to God, whatever that means, unmindful of others. That way is not through locking oneself up in one’s selfish and materialistic concerns. That way is not through narcissistically turning inward to nurse one’s wounds, whether pretended or real.

Thomas did the one important and right thing. Acknowledging his doubt, he turned right back to the faith community – the community of disciples. Thomas turned right back to the “Church.” True enough, based on the promise of Christ, his “Lord and God” was there. It was in the context of a believing community that Thomas found the object of his search. Once found, there was no need for superficial proofs. Once seen, there was no need for “peripheral” and non-essential visions. He did not need to touch the hands nor the side of him whom he called “My Lord and my God.”

The Risen Lord revealed and showed Himself to him who searched sincerely and honestly.

I am on my twenty eighth year as a priest. Over the past two decades plus eight, I have seen the sad reality of people leaving the Church not because they hate the Church per se, but really because they hate what they (mistakenly) think the Church (and their faith) is. A whole lot of ignorance coupled with prejudice, and helped by the teaching of false prophets, lead people away. But I have also witnessed people returning to the fold, people wanting to be admitted to the Church once again, because they did the right thing. They investigated their doubt and resolved their doubt, not with anger, not with resentment, but with a whole lot of sincerity and honesty, and I hasten to add, a lot of hard work. And they did that one important thing. They sought for the truth in the context of the guardian and safekeeper and proclaimer par excellence of that truth – the Church of Jesus Christ, one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

Thomas represents all of us who, for one reason or another, have been “absent” in some way, and therefore lagging behind in our knowledge and practice of the faith. Thomas represents all of us who are called to believe, not so much on the basis of what we personally see and experience, as on the basis of the testimony of others. As “second-generation” Christian believers, we believe because we “have heard,” for “faith comes from hearing” (Romans 10:14).

In the final analysis, faith is not a question of whether we were “absent” or that we “doubted” at some point, but that we believe on the basis of the Church’s – and others’ word. For indeed, the Lord did many other signs that are not written. But on the basis of her preaching and teaching and witnessing, people believed.

St. Thomas, help us in our unbelief.

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