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Recovery from Doubt

My topic today will be the doubting Thomas and his recovery from his doubt.  His story begins by going back to the night of Easter Sunday.  That night - after dark - ten apostles had gathered in the upper room.  Only ten because Judas had died and Thomas was hiding somewhere.

 

The door was locked and the lights were out because they were afraid that the scribes and Pharisees would find them and torture them for being friends of Jesus.  They were in the dark and they were emotionally exhausted.  They were grieving because Jesus, their teacher and close friend, had died.  And to make matters worse His body was missing.

 

Mary Magdalene and Peter and John had found an empty tomb when they went to his gravesite.  So they were in the dark: physically and emotionally.  They were in a dark mood because they could not see beyond their pain.  

 

And then - suddenly - the room was filled with light.  Jesus, the light of the world, came into the room even though the doors were locked.  He brought light into the room because He was alive and filled with the Holy Spirit.  And then their despair and darkness went away because Jesus breathed upon them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  They had been depressed but Jesus breathed New Life into them.

 

One week later they were together in the upper room and Thomas was with them.  They told Thomas about the resurrection of Jesus and his sending the Holy Spirit into their souls.  But Thomas was a doubting Thomas and he refused to believe them.  At that point they could have kicked him out of the room because he did not believe in the Resurrection and he did not believe in the sending of the Holy Spirit.  But they accepted him in spite of his skepticism and disbelief.  They welcomed him and included him into their prayer circle on that Sunday night.

 

A short time later Jesus entered the room and He invited Thomas to change his mind.  Jesus said, “Put your hand into my side.  And set aside your unbelief and become a believer.”  Thomas did as Jesus requested and then he said, “You are my Lord and my God.”  His faith journey had included doubt and his doubt led him to a deeper level of faith in Christ.  Thomas could now proclaim to Jesus, “You are my Lord and my God.”

 

There are several lessons that I see in today’s Gospel.  The doubting Thomas had his doubts but doubt is not a sin.  Doubt can help a person grow in faith.  Doubt is a stage that all of us go through from time to time.  Questioning God or questioning Jesus or questioning the church can help us move into a deeper level of faith.

 

When all was said and done, Thomas became a very highly committed missionary for the church.  His zeal for the Gospel was so deep that it took from Jerusalem all the way to India. 

 

Lesson Number Two:  The presence of Christ helped Thomas move away from doubt.  Thomas was in the dark and Jesus was with him in the dark.  He was wavering until he could feel the presence of his Lord and Savior.  And the same is true for us.  We can’t manufacture faith.  Faith is a gift that He hands over to us.  Jesus said that He is with us always.  If we turn away from false gods and turn toward Jesus, we will see that He is giving us the gift of faith. 

 

Lesson Number Three:  Thomas had a spirit-filled community to support him when he was moving away from doubt.  His community was filled with the Holy Spirit because Jesus had breathed His Spirit into them.  His community could see his doubt but they continued to love him.  And the same is true for us.  We need a community to help us move away from doubt. 

 

I will close with this summary:

 

1.   Doubt is not a sin.  Doubt can help us to grow in faith.

 

2.   We need a spirit-filled community to support us during our times of darkness and doubt.

 

3.   We need to remember that Jesus is our constant companion.  He said that he is with us at all times.  We are never alone.  

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Br. Ralph Edwin Dahl, osc     1938–2024

The Mass of Christian Burial for Br. Ralph will take place at 11 a.m. on July 25, at the Crosier Priory in Onamia,

with the Office of the Dead at 7:30 a.m. (Morning Prayer) followed by the Reception of the Body at 9:30 a.m. and visitation at 10 a.m.

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