Sunday, July 2, 2017

"THOMAS WAS NOT WITH THEM."


Homily for July 3rd, 2017: John 20:24-29.

          On the evening of Jesus’ resurrection, Thomas was not with the other apostles. He did not see Jesus until he rejoined them a week later. Then he uttered what many scripture scholars believe may have been the last words spoken by any of Jesus’ disciples in the original version of John’s gospel: “My Lord and my God!”

Thomas’s experience has an important lesson for us. Faith is not a private me-and-God affair. Jesus taught us this in the one prayer he gave us. It begins not “My Father,” but “Our Father.” We pray as members of a community. We need each other. Why? Here’s one answer.

Dwight L. Moody, founder of the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, tells about visiting an old friend. As they chatted in the evening by the friend’s fireplace, the host said to Moody. “I don’t see why I can’t be just as good a Christian outside the Church as within it.” Without replying, Moody used tongs to pick up a blazing coal with tongs, allowing it to burn by itself.  In silence the two men watched it smolder and out.         
          As an evangelical Protestant Dwight Moody believed that the support which believers give one another was an affair of this world only. We Catholics believe more. When we say in the Creed, “I believe in the communion of saints,” we are acknowledging that the community which we entered through baptism extends beyond this world. It includes the saints and our beloved dead. A passage in the letter to the Hebrews expresses this belief. It comes at the beginning of chapter 12. The preceding chapter recounts the great heroes of faith in the Old Testament. The writer portrays them as spectators in an arena, cheering on and encouraging us, who are still competing in the race which they ran before us. Then come these words. I discovered them as a young teenager. They thrilled me then. They thrill me still:

          “Seeing then that we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which clings so close, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the beginning and end of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”