Wednesday, April 3, 2013

From doubt to faith

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
April 7, 2013

John 20:19-31

Modern man has learned to doubt. It is part of the spirit of our times to question everything to advance in scientific knowledge. In this climate, faith is often discredited. Human beings go through life full of uncertainty and doubts. So we're all easily in tune with Thomas' reaction when the other disciples tell him that, in his absence, they've had a astounding experiencing -- "We've seen the Lord." Thomas could be a man of our times. His answer is clear: "Unless I see it...I won't believe it."

His attitude is understandable. Thomas doesn't say that his companions are lying or that they've been deceived. He just states that their testimony isn't enough for him to join in their faith. He needs to have his own experience. And Jesus never reproaches him.

Thomas was able to express his doubts within the disciples' group. Apparently, they weren't scandalized. They didn't throw him out of the group. They didn't believe the women either when they announced to them that they had seen the risen Jesus. The Thomas episode allows us to see the long road the small group of disiples had to travel to get to faith in the risen Christ.

In our time, Christian communities ought to be a space of dialogue where we could honestly share the doubts, questions, and searches of believers today. We don't all have the same experience within us. To grow in faith, we need stimulation and dialogue with others who share our same concerns.

But nothing can replace the experience of personal contact with Christ in the depth of one's own conscience. According to the gospel story, eight days later Jesus shows up again. He doesn't criticize Thomas for his doubts. His reluctance to believe reveals his honesty. Jesus shows him his wounds.

They aren't "proof" of the resurrection, but rather "signs" of his love and devotion unto death. Therefore, he invites him to delve deeper into his doubts confidently -- "Do not be unbelieving, but believe." Thomas waives verifying anything. He no longer needs proof. He only knows that Jesus loves him and invites him to trust -- "My Lord and My God."

Someday, we Christians will discover that many of our doubts, experienced in a healthy way without losing contact with Jesus and the community, can rescue us from a superficial faith content to repeat formulas, and stimulate us to grow in love and trust in Jesus, the Mystery of God incarnate who is the core of our faith.

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