Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Thomas the Doubter

A priest writing for a pastoral bulletin recalls a question he received from a schoolmate in the 5th year of elementary school: "I go to church every Sunday... how do we believe in a God we can't see?"

He was perplexed on how to answer but did respond: "We don't believe with our eyes but with our hearts."
The question was concerned with the physical his answer was spiritual.

After the Resurrection hearing the news Thomas said: "Until I have seen in his hands the print of the nails...and my hand in his side, I will not believe" (Jn.  20:25). These are the words of a man who wanted to die with Jesus when Jesus decided to go to Jerusalem. He showed great courage and faith. A desire to want to resolve one's doubts is a good thing. Doubt is often a way to a strong faith and maturity. A society filled with lies makes this necessary. 

In a scientific society, doubt is not allowed, everything needs to be tested and proved. 2+2=4 type of truth is desired: clarity and preciseness. Objective truth, is what we want, when not accepted makes you a fool. This is what is demanded in the society in which we live, religious faith is difficult to accept.

We can always choose not to believe. We can see the same thing and choose to believe or not believe. Truth is not always objective but depends on the subjective attitude of the one seeing. Love, justice, truth, conscience and the like are related to the transcendent which depends less on our understanding than the way one has lived and one's experiences in life.

In the Gospel of Luke, we have the journey to Emmaus where two disciples met Jesus on the road and didn't recognize him. He explained the words of the Scripture and when they arrived at their house they invited him in for the meal. During the meal Jesus at the table took the bread, said a blessing, broke it and gave each a piece, their eyes were opened and they recognized him and he vanished. Faith comes from hearing but is deepened by experience.

Life is made up not only of different views, and knowledge but experiences.  A person from the tropics can hear what we have to say about snow but it is not like experiencing snow. We can meet a person thru a friend but it is not like having the two meet and talk together.

The words of a novelist ring true:  "No one has seen God. However, those who love much are able to accept God." Since God is love, without love we are unable to receive him. Those who imitate this love will see God.

"Happy are those with a pure heart for they shall see God" (Matt 5:8).