Second Sunday of Easter
April 24, 2022
Let’s begin with a question.
If you found yourself marooned on a desert island, which “attitude” or “frame of mind” would be more helpful…CERTAINTY that you would be rescued…or DOUBT that help will ever come?
Take a minute to chew on that.
Are you CERTAIN of your reply? Or could there be some room for DOUBT?
CERTAINTY and DOUBT are woven throughout Scripture and are very much present in the Gospels. Think about the DOUBT in Mary’s voice when the angel brought God’s invitation. She CERTAINLY desired to do all that God asked of her. Remember her words?
Behold the handmaid of the Lord…Be it done to me according to Thy will!
Nevertheless…there was the slightest note of doubt in her voice when she asked:
How can this be since I have no relations with a man?
Fast forward from the very beginning to close to the end. At The Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday, the overwhelming mood in the Upper Room was all about CERTAINTY. Those at table were certain of Jesus’s power to heal and drive out demons…even to raise the dead. They saw for themselves His power over nature as He calmed storms and walked on water. Don’t forget about changing water into the finest wine. They observed the reaction of great crowds as He taught and preached with “amazing” authority (the Gospels frequently describe how “all who heard were amazed”)…feeding this mass of humanity with a few fish and loaves before sending them home.
Very publicly, He shut down His enemies with a few brilliant words. They were there and witnessed all of this. He was indeed “other worldly.” That much was definite…of that much, they could be CERTAIN. Nevertheless, The Last Supper began with DOUBT.
There was doubt and confusion over why Jesus would wash their feet. There was doubt and uncertainty about who the betrayer might be. There was doubt and contention over which of them was most important. They even argued about that! There was doubt concerning where Jesus was about to go…and whether they were up to the journey.
The room was filled with CERTAINTY…but…there was space enough to accommodate DOUBT.
Then came Good Friday. The only thing certain about that day was the injustice of it all. That, together with the shocking brutality, total humiliation, and agonizing death. They were there…some at the very foot of the Cross, while others kept a safe distance. They witnessed all of this. And the experience triggered a rush of fear and doubt that sent them scurrying back to the Upper Room for safety.
Now, the atmosphere was thick with doubt. Until Easter morning, that is.
Mary Magdalene was the first, and then Peter and John, then later in the evening the couple from Emmaus. They all witnessed the Risen Christ, and their shock and grief gave way to the CERTAINTY that Jesus was alive. Trusting them, others believed.
Some might well have been of the opinion that it is possible…but wow…it is hard to imagine. They might not have fully doubted, but they had reservations.
And then came Thomas. He did not hold back. He was full of DOUBT, and he let it rip! His outpouring of DOUBT didn’t impact the CERTAINTY of those who had personally encountered the Risen Lord. In fact, responding to Thomas gave them an opportunity to relive their Easter experience, and, in that way, shore up the others who believed even though they did not see.
Now Thomas had a first-hand experience and all DOUBT gave way to CERTAINTY and a beautiful profession of faith. It is important to notice that The Lord did not admonish Thomas. In fact, He invited Thomas into the most intimate of contacts…touch my wounds!
DOUBT and CERTAINTY are woven throughout Sacred Scripture, and in this Upper Room encounter, the importance of each is very much evident. For this reason, Pope Francis counsels that:
Doubts are “vitamins of faith.” They help strengthen faith and make it more robust. They enable faith to grow, to become more conscious, free, and mature.
So, if you found yourself marooned on a desert island, which “attitude” or “frame of mind” would be more helpful…CERTAINTY that you would be rescued…or DOUBT that help will ever come?
Wouldn’t you want both?
If you hang onto the CERTAINTY that help is on the way, you won’t fall into total despair and “give up.” But if you season that CERTAINTY with a healthy dose of DOUBT, you will take the steps necessary to care for and protect yourself.
As an Easter people, we can be totally confident in the power of Resurrection and CERTAIN that, by His Holy Cross, Jesus had saved the world. But when we temper CERTAINTY with a little “Thomas DOUBT,” we are more inclined to take the steps to care for and protect ourselves while we wait to be saved.
Simply put, TAKE YOUR VITAMINS!