04 May 2011

Reflection from this Sunday

Here is the outline of the reflection I provided to the brothers at Evening Prayer this past Sunday.
(Excuse the balky formatting, but transferring things from Word to Blogger isn't the most streamlined process -- especially for someone with my computer skills.)

  •     At the completion of the Easter Octave, we seem to find ourselves back where the Lord’s Passion began: at the foot of the cross.  “Doubting Thomas” takes center stage and compels us to reflect – whether we like it or not – on our own selves.  Where is our doubt?  Where are our uncomfortable moments?
  • o    Such questions bring to me a story retold by Joseph Ratzinger in his seminal Introduction to Christianity.   Ratzinger relates a story told by the great Martin Buber:

  •       The eternal condition of the human pits us in a constant struggle of whether or not we are willing to believe.  Doubt seems to be safer, a stance of suspicion always allows us to do thing on our own.  And let’s face it: despite all our claims to fraternity, there always exists a small space in our hearts that clamors for us doing things on our own.
  • ·         Indeed doubt comes in all forms.  Perhaps most ironic is the doubt that we have about our abilities and our own worthiness that pushes us away from God and not towards Him.
  • ·         Such questions of doubt also approach us in our ministerial life:
o    How can this have happened to me?
o    Why did I deserve this?
o    How did God allow this to happen?

  • ·         These must have been some of the same pastoral questions confronting the Apostles.  More specifically, those questions must have resonated with Thomas. Perhaps Thomas was worried about being hurt again? 
  • ·         However, we must be patient with Thomas, and show patience with ourselves. 
  • ·         We cannot force people to believe.  Faith brought about by coercion is worse than heresy. – Abraham Joshua Heschel; correspondingly, doubt will always be present.  However, even with doubt, we can still follow in the footsteps of the Master.
  • ·         One step further: We cannot force ourselves to believe.  Indeed, only a real experience of the Risen Christ will bring us to belief.  The only true evangelical construct at our disposal is the Lord’s Paschal Mystery: Cross, death and Resurrection
  • ·         Thomas learns this: My Lord and my God!
  • ·         How great a Redeemer have we, He who has purchased for us salvation – without any doubt.

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