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ARE WE READY TO TAKE A GAMBLE?

Father Francis's picture
The Octave of Easter

John 20:19-31

The post-resurrection appearance of Jesus to the apostles, with Thomas not present, was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to anyone in the history of the world. They were convinced that Jesus was alive again, that they had actually seen Him with their own eyes, and heard Him with their own ears.

For some reason Thomas was unwilling or unable to accept their testimony. “I’ll never believe it without putting my finger in the nail marks and my hand into His side.” Perhaps his friends had made a mistake and he was taking no chances. He had believed once and that belief had been dashed by the tragic spectacle of Calvary. Now he was a sad and disillusioned man, afraid to take the risk of faith lest he be disappointed again. Are we sometimes afraid to believe in what is good and right and beautiful, because this old world has a way of reducing our dreams to shambles?

I think that is what Thomas was feeling when Jesus appeared the second time and offered him visual proof of the resurrection. Then He said to His doubting friend, “You believe because you can see Me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.” It seems to me that Jesus is saying that the Christian faith at its best means taking a chance, believing in what ought to be even though we cannot prove it.

Sometimes we try to use our religion to minimize the risks of life. We want good health, long life, peace of mind, prosperity and so we turn to religion on the basis that if I believe in God and live by His laws, He will protect me from harm and provide for all my needs. The only problem is that it did not work too well for Jesus because no one ever believed more deeply and lived more devotedly than He, and look where it led Him – to the Cross. Jesus’ approach to faith had nothing to do with safety and security. It was rather a matter of knowing and doing the will of His Father. He committed His life to that purpose, even though it led to Calvary.

When Jesus pronounced a blessing on those who believe without seeing, He was simply saying that we should not limit our faith to that of our understanding because, let’s face it; there are very few things in this life that we can prove with absolute certainty. Most of the important issues cannot be reduced to a mathematical formula, or studied in a test tube or examined under a microscope. A meaningful Christian faith is one that reaches beyond the realm of personal experience to believe in those truths that cannot be proved.

Jesus never discouraged people from expressing their doubts or admitting they did not know. He welcomed the honest seeker of truth. Although we are not told in the Gospels I am sure He spent many hours patiently trying to make His Apostles understand. He never had time for the devious scribes and Pharisees who were not there to learn from Him but wanted to trick and discredit Him in the eyes of the people.

There is so much to learn about our faith. We do not need to have all the answers in order to walk with Jesus. In the New Testament His followers were often called disciples, a word which means student, and that is what we are – His students. Our Teacher offers nothing but encouragement to the sincere seeker of the truth.

Lord Jesus, we should not be afraid to examine our faith, asking questions we want answered. Faith involves taking a gamble, on what really matters in life, to become the people You call blessed.

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