To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible. – St. Thomas Aquinas
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” – Jesus (John 20:29)
I was reading today’s Mass readings, as I prepare for an evening Mass in Carmichael, CA. Today’s scene is one of doubt, particularly on Thomas’s part. Judas’s name has survived throughout history as a synonym for betrayer; Thomas’s name is in infamy as one who doubts (Doubting Thomas). I am sure Thomas would not have wanted to be remembered as he is, but history has been so and is bound between pages of many writings.
So what does all this have to do with us? I love the quote from Thomas Aquinas above, which is far too accurate. Here we have Thomas, beloved disciple (not “the” beloved) of Jesus, who followed our Blessed Lord, adhered and memorized His teachings on all things, and witnessed miraculous wonders done in Jesus’ own name, yet word from Thomas’s friends that the Resurrected Jesus had visited them, was not enough.
“Jesus better stand here in front of me so I can inspect His wounds, perhaps question Him, and even prod with my filthy fingers the wounds He received, because this, friends, is hard news to swallow. A fool would believe such a thing without evidence!” says the doubter
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe, we are told, and how true is this. The one who has faith through the grace God has gifted him, does not need proof, or an explanation. Yet, he who’s heart is hard as stone demands the very heavens open up and rain down with trumpets and glorious music for belief to begin. And even still, how is one to know that this is not God but some creature from another planet, the doubter will suggest, even when blinded by God’s face.
Belief can be hard for many. Those who do believe struggle with other demons of doubt, particularly one or more teachings of Jesus that are too difficult to digest, no pun intended (ehem, Eucharist). During Jesus’ ministry, there was only one time when the masses abandoned Him other than the time of His Passion, and this was when He described his body as real food, and his blood as real drink, and that his followers must eat (literally chew, or gnaw) His body, and drink His blood to gain Heaven. What a tough teaching if you do not understand the spiritual significance.
And what of infant baptism? Nowhere in scripture does it say not to baptize infants, but the Bible is clear that entire households (including infants) were baptized.
And absolution? Didn’t Jesus command His disciples on more than one occasion to confess their sins to each other, and to bind and loose? And what about priestly ordination, apostolic succession, marriage between one man and one woman, or Mary as a perpetual virgin, all taught in the Bible and throughout history?
Some things are too difficult to believe. That’s fine, because there are tens of thousands of denominations to choose from in the world, customized to fit what one may be comfortable believing. But is one here following truth, even though it may be uncomfortable, or is one only searching for comfort with the absence of truth? Aren’t we, if we are intellectually and spiritually honest, required in our very being to only follow truth, no matter where it might lead us?
A couple years back, as I was a new Catholic, or possibly right before, I had a nightmare. I was in a dark empty space, and there were tall wooden crosses all about me, dozens of them. A voice came over me asking, “Which one would you choose to believe?”
I know now, that I will follow the true Cross of Jesus. The Cross that is very difficult and heavy, that will have me at times ashamed of who I am; the Cross that demands so much from me that I must leave behind all my wants to conserve my strength for all that is demanded of me. I choose to take Jesus in context, no matter how difficult His teaching, and have faith that He did indeed create His Church on earth, to which Hell confronts daily, and daily is pushed back. I choose to be in the Church Jesus established 2,000 years ago, the Church that is scandalized by some of its members throughout history, as Jesus was scandalized by his own disciples, but I know the difference between a Holy Church and some unholy followers.
I choose the Cross that remains as truth throughout all ages, even when all other churches bend and break to new age ideas such as contraception and birth control, who even allow abortion. The Cross is so hard to carry when current societies of the world pull it into the dirt with their persecutions, demanding that the Cross be taken down on such twisted morals as gay marriage and adoption, contraception, sterilization, compassion for evil-doers, or females in the priesthood. The Cross cannot bend or break, for it is truth, and truth, like God, can never change.
God love His people
God Love His Church
God love all people of good will
But especially, God love those who persecute His Church out of their disbelief or doubt
God love you,