Sunday, April 19, 2009

Doubting Thomas

Just thinking about the readings today. I pretty much had to post this.

First, it gives me a good reason to put up a Caravaggio, which holds a certain amount of awesomeness in its own right.

Second, you all probably heard a shpiel today about how we judge St. Thomas a bit too harshly. Given some recent events, I have to concur with that.

The standard Thomas homily basically points out that the man had just lost his teacher and best friend. He'd been completely disillusioned and emotionally wiped out. Then he gets news that The Master has risen from the dead and came back to see everybody else. Thomas doesn't believe because he doesn't want to "put himself out there" only to be hurt again in a worse fashion than before.

I agree with all this. People are readily prone to despair. I see folks every day who absolutely cannot conceive of anything good happening. Many will be more than willing to tell you that their attitude is because they don't want to be disappointed or let down by optimism. We've all seen the guy or girl go into a social shell due to prior relationships that ended badly. Thomas was the same thing only with the volume turned up to 11.

Anyways, I'm going to add another element to this. If I was Thomas, I would have been ticked. My thoughts would have probably gone something like this, "Who does Jesus think He is grantng favor to these other guys and leaving me out?" Lots of people have a real problem with other people getting gifts they don't get, whether it's a good job or spiritual consolations or whatever. I think this drives a lot of these "Prosperity Gospel" folk. Ultimately, it's covetousness. I'm not saying that Thomas fell victim to this, but I can see it playing out that way. Easier for him to believe that Jesus didn't come back at all than to think he'd been dissed by Christ not showing up while he was around. It's just how some folks are.

The point in all this, I'd suggest, is something that my colleague Karl mentions from time to time. The Resurrection is the supreme reason for optimism. Dying He destroyed our death; rising He restored our life. The Eternal Galilean has conquered. No matter what is going down at the moment, there is a happy ending. Jesus made it possible. How can one not be joyful?

My Lord and My God!

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