Easter - Ascension - Yr A - 2017
Ss. Peter & Paul, Danville
I don’t know about you, but sometimes it’s all just too much. Am I right? The Son of God left heaven and became a man? Yeah right. There’s life after death – and committing a sin can prevent me from getting there? You mean if I tell a lie – if I have sex outside of marriage – if I steal, or talk badly about my neighbor – if I don’t conform myself to some outdated moral code – then I’ll go to some place called hell that is eternal torment? Yeah right. You mean the greatest of all the commandments is to love God and love other people, and love means sacrificing to do what’s best for them – all of them? You mean if I don’t live my life in this kind of sacrifice I’ll miss the boat and be lost for all eternity? Yeah right.
You mean this Jesus we talk about all the time, who is supposedly the Son of God, also supposedly knew that I would have a hard time with all of this, and that’s why he lived a human life, and died a cruel human death – cut open, bled out, and was left hanging to dry like some butchered meat? Yeah right – I mean, if He was the Son of God, would He really do that? Do that for me – little ole me? Yeah right. Oh sure – sure – He didn’t stay dead. Uh huh. Right. He “rose from the dead” and walked around some more, did he? Come on Father – I know that’s the story you’re supposed to tell – that’s your job – but do you really expect anyone to believe that?
Ok – well – maybe I’ll believe all that. But you’ve got to cut me some slack, OK? Stop with all the rest will you? I mean…you expect me to believe that this Jesus really somehow sent His supernatural spirit to those first apostles – that uneducated, in-fighting, common, fickle bunch who followed Him around aimlessly, watched Him die, denied ever knowing Him? You expect me to believe that there’s something about them that gives them to power to forgive sins? Yeah right, Father. Nice story – but you’ve gotta be kidding me, right? I mean – you expect me to believe these little pieces of cracker and cheap wine actually become His eternal living and divine presence among us – you’re about as crazy as they come, aren’t you? You go ahead, Father, and bow and fall down on one knee in front of the gold box and the altar – I’ll do it, too, because it’s a nice idea. But you don’t really expect me to believe that the Great King of All Creation is actually just sitting there in that tabernacle just so He can hang out with us whenever we show up here, do you? Please, Father, you insult my intelligence!
I like all the stories – I like the idea of taking care of other people – I like this notion that I don’t really stop being when I die – and I even like all these quaint little notions of ritual and tradition – but you don’t really expect me to believe it’s true, do you? I doubt it, Father – you’re a nice enough guy, but I doubt it. It’s all just too much…
It is too much to believe sometimes, isn’t it friends? It’s so far beyond making sense sometimes that we all have doubts. Doubts aren’t bad – it’s what we do with our doubts that makes all the difference.
I discovered something in this Gospel reading: they doubted too! The ones who had seen Him with their own eyes, seen the miracles He’d performed, seen Him dead as a doornail and three days later walking and talking and eating and living again among them! They doubted!! They recognized Him in the breaking of the bread, and they doubted! They went ahead of Him to that mountain in Galilee as Jesus had ordered them to do – they followed His commands and they worshipped Him when they got there! And – know what else they did? When they saw Him, they worshipped Him, but they doubted. That’s right – they doubted. They doubted, too! The Apostles – our forefathers in faith – they doubted!
They doubted – and what did Jesus do? Condemn them? Send them away? Go looking for others who didn’t doubt? What did Jesus do? He sent them anyway! He sent them to spread the Good News! He sent them to preach all that they’d heard and seen – He sent them to share with others! Even though they doubted, He sent them to save the world!!
You doubt sometimes, friends – and so do I. Doubting is a part of living the life of faith – doubting is part of trusting in things unseen, of cultivating a true and authentic and lived faith. We don’t have to be afraid of our doubts. What we have to do is live past our doubts! We have to live beyond our doubts – living in faith – living a great adventure of spreading the Gospel because we know it to be true even when we doubt. YOU are called – YOU are chosen – YOU are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a people set apart for God’s own possession – YOU are charged with living differently from the world in order to save the world around you in spite of your doubts. Are you doing that? How are you doing that?
"When they saw him, they worshipped, but they doubted." And what did Jesus do with these worshippers who doubted? He sent them to spread the Gospel. Doubts aren't excuses - they're part of living the life of faith. You've been sent, even with your doubts. Will you go?