Trust and doubt.

Homily 306 – Thomas Sunday
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
April 15, 2018

Epistle: (14) – Acts 5:12-20
Gospel: (65 ext) – John 20:19-31

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.

Christ is Risen! Christos Voskrese! Christos Anesthi!

For generations, our society has made a bit of a mockery of St. Thomas. Or, as he is better known, Doubting Thomas.

But not in the Orthodox Church – where the icon for this Sunday is called “The belief of Thomas”, or in the Greek version, the “Touching of Thomas”.

The focus is not on doubt, but rather belief.

That is a message we don’t hear much today. It isn’t fashionable to believe. It is fashionable to doubt. To be a skeptic. To be dismissively snarky is somehow “cool” and “in.”

We don’t take anything on faith anymore. We no longer trust our neighbor, much less our leaders. We don’t trust the institutions that we used to trust implicitly.

Schools. Government. A study recently put our governmental leaders at the lowest level of trust in the history of the country.

At the top were nurses. Military officers. Grade school teachers.

At the bottom – Congress. The president. Lobbyists. Lawyers.

And not without merit – a president or member of Congress or Senator who says one thing and then does something else is not worthy of trust. Same with anyone. We have to believe that what is said is true and dependable.

That is what we find in Christ. Complete trustworthiness – based on a history of keeping His word.

One would think St. Thomas would be held up for admiration in our society.

Regardless of the perception, the reality of St. Thomas is two-fold. We cannot ignore the doubt. But in conjunction with doubt, we should not ignore the belief.

Last night at Vespers we sang hymns that speak of the importance of St. Thomas.

We sang: The Disciples were assembled on the eighth day,
and the Savior appeared to them.
He gave them peace and said to Thomas:
“Come, Apostle! Feel my hands, which were pierced by the nails!”
Most wonderful doubt of Thomas!
It brought the hearts of the faithful to knowledge.
And with fear he cried: “My Lord and my God, glory to You!”

Another hymn: Thomas, called the Twin, was not with the Disciples, O Christ,
when You came to them through closed doors.
Therefore he doubted their word.
You did not reject him for his faithlessness.
When he saw Your side and the wounds in Your hands and feet,
his faith was made certain.
Having touched and seen,
he confessed You to be truly God, not only man,
crying: “My Lord and my God, glory to You!”

It is ok to doubt. Jesus doesn’t reject doubt. What gets rejected is doubt that is followed by dismissal. We doubt and no longer struggle. We have decided.

We have decided. Not God. We. I.

In the midst of doubt, the most difficult part for us may be the struggle to believe. That is the part of the doubting that we must not abandon.

Whatever our doubt – whatever the issue – we have to keep trying to believe. Or, even like St. Thomas – until I see and touch.

If you pray every day that God make Himself real to you – that Christ reveal Himself to you – He will do so. It may take a while. It may take a lifetime.

It is the proclamation of the father we heard on the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent – Lord, I believe – help my unbelief.

Lord, I desire to believe. I want to believe. Help me believe. Show yourself, reveal yourself. Give me the eyes to see, the ears to hear.

Like Thomas, the Apostle chosen by Christ, that prayer will be answered. Thomas wasn’t answered immediately – but rather a week later.

And so too we may not be answered quickly. We have to be persistently patient. Patiently persistent.

Unwilling to give up, until we get what we want – belief. Belief without doubt.

For St. Thomas, it took time – a week.

But when it was answered. Oh boy. Thomas proclaimed the faith – the Gospel. He said, “My Lord and my God!”

Before the crucifixion, Jesus was called Lord. He was called Rabbi, and Teacher.

But when Thomas emerged from doubt to belief – when the Lord, His Lord, revealed Himself, Thomas proclaimed His Lord to also be God.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.

Christ is risen!