Thomas and John, Patmos and Boston
by Fr. Robert J. Carr
The second reading and the gospel give us important lessons today in Boston. First, you may have heard me preach before that I really do not consider Thomas the Doubter. Thomas the angry is more accurate. Indeed, that bible does not call him doubting Thomas, that comes more from popular, as opposed to sacred, tradition. If you listen to his words, you can see this is a man discouraged, disillusioned and disappointed. He is talking to a room full of men and women stating that they had seen Jesus. He instead refused to believe.
Thomas' expectations did not match Jesus' actions. He was angry, Jesus abandoned him. The apostles were left holding the basket of broken eggs, broken dreams and broken promises. Suddenly, he hears that Jesus is back. So what, everything in the basket is broken. Who cares?
It is in that spirit that Thomas speaks.
THOMAS SPEAKING FOR US?
I am sure we can relate as well. Those of us who have suffered the persecution over the past several years certainly can give ourselves up to disillusionment. It was not supposed to be this way. We live in a free country, yet, we suffer persecution for our faith. It was not supposed to be that way. However, it was.
Thomas is being hit with another reality of God. God is surprise. Do not expect the man who walked on water, healed the sick, calmed storms and died on the cross only to resurrect three days later to live down to your expectations. Jesus spent his three years constantly challenging and challenging the notions of truth that each of the apostles maintained. He called them to see with the eyes of faith, not just the eyes of the body. Thomas was still looking with the eyes of the body and calling for Jesus to live up to human expectations. He still did not get it. The minute he puts his fingers in Christ's hands and his hand in his side, he comes to terms with the truth the others discovered. God is surprise. He acts in ways beyond our imagining.
We can look at Thomas and with him lament, it was not supposed be that way, but then begin to see God's hand doing things beyond our wildest expectations. I have told you before, virtually, every clue we have received indicating that there was another agenda in these so called protests for the Safety of Children happened on Mary's feast days. That is absolutely true. It was a sign to us to stay focused on Christ, great things will happen. You will see great things happen. Mary after all is the Mother of the Church, the same church for which her Son died.
LISTENING TO ST. JOHN THE DIVINE
This brings us to the other person we hear from this Sunday: John the Divine, the exile on the Island of Patmos. Rejected by the world for serving Christ he is forced by the world into a far corner of seclusion. It was there he discovers not only the future of the world but truths beyond what the world would ever know. He wrote the book of Revelations. So it is with us.
We have been rejected by the worldly. They reject our values, our beliefs and our truth. They want us to be silent. If you accept their rejection joyfully you will experience wisdom based truths beyond your imagining. You will most likely not see a huge set of visions similar to what John of Patmos discovered, but you will learn the truth about Catholicism, about Jesus Christ, about what it means to be human.
WORLDLY BLINDNESS VERSUS CHRISTIAN VISION
The world is blind to the Truths that are Jesus Christ. Remember he says He is the Truth. The world does not understand this. So when we preach Jesus, the worldly powers go running away with their hands over its ears. They reject Christ, then they reject his followers. If we then embrace Christ we learn what the world chooses to reject in us. We come to know the wisdom that the world considers foolishness. We will learn truths beyond the imaginations of the worldly selves of our previous days, at least for those us unfortunate enough to have previous worldly days.
This is the reason why we do what we do, because we have found the truth. We need look no further but deeper into that truth. Remember the kingdom of God is within. We find it when we allow ourselves to be transformed from within by God's grace. We find it further when we live and socialize and associate with like minded people who equally allow themselves to be so transformed. People who like you and I are rejected by those wise only in worldly wisdom.
During Holy Week, a broadcast television network news organization and a major news magazine both made presentations of Jesus. I saw neither. Is the television network and its parent corporation embracing Christ now? How about the magazine publisher? If not then what do they have to say to those who do embrace Christ? If they have not embraced Christ, they cannot understand him. If they cannot understand him, then what can they possibly say to those who do?
However, equally, during the same time two movies appeared. One the famous "The Passion of the Christ" by Mel Gibson and the Other the famous The Ten Commandments by Cecil B. Demille in its annual presentation on ABC. Both movies one from the 1950's one the other from this year were made by people who had a passion to tell this story. These people, communicated what the network news organization nor the magazine reporters could do. That is why the Ten Commandments is timeless and The Passion of the Christ is the number movie in the country still. Both people understood the importance of both stories. You can go to the most learned of men in our educational institutions, our governments and our corporations who do not understand what both Cecil B. DeMille and more importantly Mel Gibson fully understood. The Exodus Account and the death and resurrection of the Christ are the most important news stories for our time, for they are the most important news stories for every time.
ST. JOHN THE DIVINE SAID THERE WOULD BE DAYS LIKE THIS
John the Divine reminds us that there will be a time where those who reject Christ will work to destroy the citizens in his Kingdom. That is you and I. Yet, he also reminds us that the kingdom of the world is coming to an end. Our rejection is temporary, as we embrace more the Kingdom of God even under the persecution of local government authorities and educators and popular culture icons.
I was listening to the latest tape by Osama Bin Laden. Hearing his words as a man of the faith that I am, I heard the hatred in them. The self-centered pride that calls for an end to our race. That hatred is the true enemy of our worldly neighbors. Without the wisdom of Christ they can only fight it with the ideas that come from the same cesspool of evil. Indeed, what Bin Laden may eventually figure out is that the evil he fears, world domination by an amoral popular culture based on false anthropology (It is the same source of evil that attacks us, by the way,) and the evil he promulgates Radical Islamic Terrorism, come from the same place.
The only way one can fight either is to recognize that neither is based in the truth and reject it. Turn instead towards the Wisdom of the Living God. This wisdom will teach us truths that neither of our enemies can ever know. That is because they have no way to reach the source of those truths, but to humble themselves before the living God.
GETTING READY TO WALK TO THE TALK
We have to further embrace our wisdom and remove from our lives those elements of false worldly wisdom that come from areas of the world that seek to silence our voice. This worldly wisdom must be cast out from our lives, our homes, our parishes, our schools, our archdiocese and Catholicism itself. Yet, it can only be done so, if we first embrace the truth of the resurrected Christ and fill our lives so strongly with Christ that the world has no place to puts its foot hold in us at all.
You and I have that great opportunity. The minute we kneel before the resurrected Christ saying My Lord and My God, our minds' eyes are awakened. We begin to see what the doubters, the haters and the amoral and the immoral can never see, the place reserved for the subjects of Jesus, and what is in store for his enemies. History has been filled with the blessings lived by St. Thomas and St. John the Divine and consequences lived by their persecutors. Our worldly neighbors keep forgetting that history keeps repeating itself. Yet, we don't pay any mind to their history, but to our future, our future in the Kingdom of God.
http://www.catholicismanew.org MA, US
Fr. Robert J. Carr - Parochial Vicar, Holy Cross Cathedral, Boston, 617 542-5682
persecution, hope, Christian vision
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