Second Sunday Easter 2012 Doubting Thomas

Scripture readings for Sunday's Mass are here 

My reflection on the Gospel of Doubting Thomas from last year is here
and from 2010 is here.

and an post earlier this year on faith and doubt

and yet another from the archives here on why questions can be important.

Caravaggio's masterpiece of Thomas

This version of Caravaggio's Doubting Thomas by John Granville Gregory called Still Doubting,  hangs, currently, in Bangor Cathedral, North Wales. You can find a quirky comment on Tim Parker's Blog, here, and a comment from the artist himself.

There is so much to say on this Gospel probably because most people at some time or another experience the dark night of doubt, or dryness in faith. I know I have. 
Today I am graced to be able to say that my faith in the Resurrection is resolute.

This post combines a reflection on doubt and the dear to my heart "thin places, specifically in the beautiful Scottish island of Iona and draws attention to the fact that poor old Thomas gets landed with the title of "the doubting disciple."
 ...."But Thomas appears earlier in the Gospel according to John, when Jesus and the disciples receive the news that Lazarus had died. Jesus wants to return to Lazarus in Judea, where his life had been threatened before, and Thomas is the only disciple who says: “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16).

I like Thomas very much despite his undeserved reputation as the ‘doubting’ disciple, a reputation mostly generated by misunderstanding. For years I have heard many talks about how it is so bad to doubt, and so good to believe. 

In this kind of thinking, no wonder Thomas comes out as a bad example. Nobody talks about his willingness to die with Jesus, at least at that time, but they all talk about his unbelief."

Christ said blessed are those who cannot see but who believe and that's the theme of this song

Neil Diamond's Man of God 
for the 21st Century??

These two fine homilies for the Second Sunday of Easter are from the late Fr. Matthew Kelty OCSO. (See a previous post on him here)

The first is titled

"The man told me that lithium helped him deal with his mental illness; in fact, he felt just fine. But it turned out that he did have some difficulties. The people next door were out to get him. They harassed him constantly. "I know they do. I turn a corner and there they are. I come out the door and so does he. 

I drive in the driveway and he comes along right after me. He peeks through the windows, for I can see the curtains move. One day it got to us, so I went out and sat in the car, locked the doors and called 911. 

They came and asked, "What's the matter?" I told them that they were peeking through the curtains at me. The officer went next door and came back. "No one's home there!" "Of course not. They don't answer."
If you could get so deeply into that man's confidence that he would totally trust you, accept you, maybe you could get to the point where you could tell him, "Look! You're getting false signals, erroneous messages. 

The information you receive isn't correct." If he'd listen to you, he'd be a lot happier.


Forty pilots were hired to carry air mail in the 1920's. Thirty-one died in crashes. The main reason: in flying through clouds a pilot becomes disoriented. He ends up flying sideways even though he is certain that he is flying straight and level. 

The information his senses deliver to him is faulty information. The inner ear cannot function for balance in such circumstances. So the pilots go into a tail spin and crash. 

It was not until the gyroscope and the artificial horizon that the situation could be met. A pilot then flies blind and must rely wholly on the instruments. Otherwise he will fly into the ground. A highly trained pilot with 18,000 hours took off in the Bombay night and promptly flew a graceful curve into the Arabian sea. He thought the instruments — his and the co-pilot's — were at fault. 

His voice was on the tape. More than 200 perished for his failure to trust the instruments instead of his own instincts.
If the mentally ill man would fly blind and listen to his mentor, he could manage. If a pilot in the total cloud-scape rejects his instincts and flies blind, he'll make it. But in either case, the human messages he is receiving are faulty.
And in the human scene faith, is the source of the only reliable messages in the world of life's deepest questions.

 To stand at a grave-side, witness to the total end of a human life, is to experience the onslaught of how many messages that, "This is the end. There is no more. It's over and out. We come and we go and that is it."
But the messages that faith gives us are entirely different. And if an ill person needs to trust another's judgment, if a pilot absolutely must fly blind in total reliance on his instruments, so human existence can only be whole and sound and sane when we live with total reliance on what our faith tells us. 

Total trust. Fly blind.
And of course, it's a move beyond what Thomas did in this morning's gospel. He flatly refused to accept talk of Christ's rising unless he see the Lord with his own eyes, touch Him in wounded hand and side. Jesus gently rebuked the man. "So you believe now that you see. There's a bigger step and a stronger faith and a greater love when you believe even when you do not see. 

Some day you must do that."
I think we are naive if we think blind trust in another or in what our instruments tell us is easy. It is not.

 It would require great trust in another when all the evidence tells me I see him behind the curtain  that's moving in his window. When every bone in my body tells me I'm flying sideways and I'm gaining altitude.
There are two points to remember about faith. One is this: it's a gift of God. And the second, having it doesn't make you superior. You do have superior gifts, but that doesn't make you superior.
If anything, it places you under tremendous obligations: an obligation of gratitude, an attitude of response to the gift and of responsibility to human kind.
Living for others, I guess,  is  the only way to respond to such blessing. "New money"-- you  know: coming suddenly into a fortune — is one thing. I don't know much about that. But "old money" I heard tell on that.

 Old money means: entitlement and commitment. Entitlement: you've got a perfect right to your wealth, sense no guilt . No need to apologize for it. And commitment: you use your wealth for good.
If that be true in terms of worldly goods, how much more for those of grace! 

We do not sense guilt because we have the gift of faith, but we sense the need to use it for the good of all.

 Most of all in a deep faith that functions not only in blessings and graces, but also in darkness, in suffering, and in doubt: when we enter in depth into the human scene. 

And this the more so in a world that knows more sorrow and more suffering than we know, and often enough with small supernatural comfort.

Our aspiration is not to be like Thomas and to kneel in enthusiastic response to a Lord present before me in wounded radiance. 

No: but in the darker valleys where we travel to translate the word that we receive, to fly blind when we believe that we do not see, when I believe I'm headed for a plunge into disaster. 

This is quality response to a great endowment. 

This is quality performance for the good of others. Amen."

When I was searching for some music for Doubting Thomas this first one below was by far the most common one mentioned on Tumblr, as was the the painting by Caravaggio.

It seems to strike a chord for a lot of people and points to some of the fears that can surface in our faith from time to time.

(Lord I believe, Help My unbelief !!)

Nickel Creek Doubting Thomas 

Another take on doubt and belief

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