Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Homily for Feast of St. Thomas, 3 July 2013

Today I preached mostly on the Gospel, St. John's account of "doubting Thomas." Here's what I said, as best I recall.  Pope Francis's homily can be found here.

When Pope St. Gregory the Great preached on today's Gospel, he made the distinction between knowledge and faith.  St. Thomas saw Jesus with the eyes of his body, and so he recognized Jesus as Risen and alive.  But in a separate act, he also saw Jesus with the eyes of his soul, and recognized who it was who was really standing before him: God, the Son of God. 

There are a great many people today who are able to see with the eyes of the body, but who refuse to see with the eyes of the soul.  I'm thinking for example of people who support abortion; they can see even with the eyes of the body what harm abortion does - taking the life of an innocent child, morally damaging a mother and often a father as well, and also other people - but yet they don't recognize the moral evil.  I'm also thinking of those who don't support the traditional meaning of marriage.  They can see how important marriage really is to children and to the common good, but yet they are willing to support many things that harm marriage.  And many other examples could be listed.

The evidence of God is there, in front even of the eyes of our bodies, but there are people who refuse to make the move St. Thomas made, to go from seeing physically to seeing with the eyes of the soul, to recognize who it is who confronts us and calls us every day.  They cannot see Jesus Christ with their soul, because they do not have faith, or they do not have hope, or they do not know joy.

This is what we have to offer them.  The responsorial psalm tells us, "Go out to all the world and tell the Good News."  We are called to share the Gospel, to share our faith and hope and joy, with everyone.  We have to give them a reason to believe!  The world can't do this.  The world gives us no reason to hope, or to love or know joy, or to have any kind of faith.  But we have what they truly want, what Jesus Christ has given us, if only they could recognize what they truly need.  We have to offer it to them.

The best way to do that is always the way of humility, as St. Gregory also loved to say.  The way of humility is the way of the Cross.  It means following Jesus all the way to the end.  Sometimes, humility can mean giving up a friendship because the price of keeping the friendship is losing the Faith.  Sometimes humility means being willing to be last or less, in our family or at work, because we don't seek the power the world prizes.  Sometimes it means being unpopular, because we don't seek the world's popularity as important.  Very often it means being willing to say No to something evil, even when the whole world, it seems, is trying to say Yes to it.

But always, humility means we don't hold ourselves up with pride about our faith, as if we're special because have something that "those poor slobs" don't have.  Rather, when we share the reasons for our faith, we share something as a gift.  We don't crush people with the Faith, we offer it with gentleness, with joy.  Someone is only going to recognize Jesus Christ in our faith if what we offer is not about us, convincing them or dominating them or "winning them over."

But when we offer faith and hope, with humility and joy, we have a chance of helping people to see with the eyes of the soul: to see good and evil, to see the presence of God, to respond to the love of God.  We have to give people reasons to have hope, to love Jesus Christ.  Only then will they be able to see, and say, "My Lord and my God!"

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