Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Doubting Thomas

This Sunday I have a rare opportunity to preach.  Since I don't do any supply at this point in my retirement, it is a privilege when my Rector asks me to do the homily. So I decided to kill two birds with one stone and submit a shortened version as a blog.

If you have an employee who is always an underachiever, and then one day in a flare of grandiosity the person declares, "from now on out I am going to perform perfectly with 100% productivity," you probably would say, "I'll believe it when I see it." 

"I'll believe it when I see it."  Where did this phrase come from?  Perhaps this notion had is origin in the 17th century when Kepler looked around and discovered that the planets moved around the sun.  Maybe it was Galileo who discovered the telescope in the 16th century.  Or maybe it was Sir Issac Newton who in the 18th century looked at an apple falling from a tree and discovered the law of gravity.  Maybe it came from Charles Darwin who looked at the species in the Galapagos Islands and developed the theory of evolution.  Compositely it was probably all of these and many more who combined to develop the scientific method.

Seeing is believing.  To some extent we are all skeptics.  We like to know what we are getting into.  We are children of the scientific revolution and we often see our world apart from God.  We tend to separate God from life when we engage the everyday activities of commerce, politics, economics, society, marriage and family.  We look around and we make up our minds, even when we are hunting for a church.

It was really no different when the disciples gathered after Jesus resurrection.  When he walked into the room he showed them his hands and his side.  Thomas wasn't there, so when the other disciples told him that they had "seen the Lord," he simply stated in other words that he would "believe it when he saw it."  Thomas the skeptic had to see with his own eyes that it was the risen Lord.  A week later when Thomas put his finger in Jesus' hands and side, he answered, "My Lord and my God!"

For the religious seeker, the skepticism we universally possess can only take us so far.  Ultimately it is a dead end.  So even though none of us as had the privilege of seeing the historic Jesus, some of us believe anyway.  This is what is known as faith.  We believe that Jesus died for us and was raised from the dead as means by which we are reconciled, or made right with God.  We believe this and confirm it whenever we worship and witness to the power of the risen Lord in our lives.

We believe because we have made the spiritual connection between Christ and the world.  By this I mean that we have faith that Christ is embedded in us in our birth, in our life experiences, in our worship; in the very warp and woof of our flesh.  We believe that the risen Lord dwells not only in the cosmic order, but in the plants and the fishes and the animals and deep within the human soul.  This does not come to us in the scientific method.  It comes to us when the Christ who is mythically "up there" becomes the Christ who dwells in us and lives with us intimately every day in every way.  The Christ whom we see as "up there" becomes the Christ who dwells in us every minute of our waking and sleeping life.  This is why we proclaim "alleluia, Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed.  Alleluia"


  1. Thanks for this post Robert. I love Thomas and never call him "doubting." I notice in the story text that it does not state, but only implies, that Thomas touched the wounded hands of Christ. So I've wondered if Jesus' invitation to Thomas to do so was enough to inflame Thomas' faith, and he didn't need to touch to say, "My Lord and my God." Maybe Thomas's faith was even stronger than the others'—based in his relationship with Jesus? Just a thought.