Homily – 2nd Sunday of Easter – 16th April 2023
Over these past few weeks we have taken long and prayerful looks at the core of historical events from which our creed springs. Christ, who was a real human being, lived in a real place, at a real time, died a real death, and was buried in a real grave.
But because he was also the Son of God, he rose from the dead, and again lived, a real human being in real place at a real time. No one makes that point more clearly than does Thomas in the Gospel reading for today. His appearance to the Apostles could not be dismissed as wishful thinking on the fruit of an overactive imagination.
But far beyond the bare facts we have given thought, too, to what they mean. Because God himself confronted and experienced human weakness and suffering and death and overcame them, those things can never again be experienced in quite the same way by any human being. God cannot act foolishly, meaninglessly. So, if God suffered and died there must be sense and meaning to suffering and death. They no longer mean the end of happiness and joy nor even the end of life itself.
Now that is a lot to try and think about in a few days. Christianity is not a simple thing. It is as complex as human nature, and as mysterious as divine nature, Christianity seems to demand of us an almost more than human ability to practice optimism, persistence, forgiveness, charity.
And Christianity even demands of us that we practice these virtues in situations in which to do so may very well seem inappropriate, frustrating, even foolish.
If all we have to go on is our experience of the world, we can cast about for some time and not come up with too terribly many good reasons for being patient, optimistic, persistent, forgiving and charitable. Somehow, if these virtues are going to be practiced with any integrity, we must be made able to know more about the world and our life in it than we are able to draw simply from our immediate experience.
And that is really just a complicated way of saying that a Christian, before anything else, must be a believer. Faith ties together all of the complex elements of our Christianity, simplifies them, into one challenge. To accept the fact that it is God’s world, that he has visited and changed it to suit his purpose. And because of that, human experience can never be a very reliable yardstick to use in judging good and evil, truth and error. Only God’s word can possibly be such a yardstick in his world.
And if we apply that yardstick faithfully then all of the other virtues will follow through our lives much more naturally and easily. As St. Peter writes in the second reading this morning, “Protect your faith. Treasure it. There is cause for rejoicing there.”