WHEN YOU DO NOT
Reading this Gospel I was struck by the statement of Jesus after he had invited Thomas to place his hands in his wounds, and after Thomas has declared, "My Lord, and my God". Jesus says to him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
The question that I was compelled to consider was, " How does one come to believe, when one has not seen?" It is a difficult question to answer. We have become a people who must see, who must have all the evidence before us, who must have logical reasoned explanations to everything. So how does one believe when one has not seen?
All that I can say is that I came to believe, not by the presentation of evidence beyond a shadow of a doubt, and not by some reasoned logic, but by all I can describe as the Spirit of God beginning to stir in my heart, and I began experience the presence of God in my life and to hear more loudly the call of God. I think that is the way it happens quite often. One comes to believe when we experience the presence of God in our lives hear the call of God. It may sound too simple for you. I cannot think of any other way to describe it.
I suppose that people come to church for the first time for many reasons. People come to church on high festivals like Easter and Christmas for many reasons, but I believe that people come primarily, not because they have to be here, not because it is customary to be here, but because Spirit of God stirs in their hearts.
Do you know what I think that God first stirs up in our hearts? It is a sense of wonder. That is a childlike attribute which is largely lost by adults. Children have it. A woman was traveling with her young child in a train. The boy was fascinated with everything that he saw. He looked out the window, "Look at that mother!", "Hey would you look at that". "Look at those trees, Ive never seen trees like that", "Wow! look at that river?" The mother was embarrassed. She says to the people sitting by them, "Dont mind him, he still sees the world full of wonder." It is one of those qualities that I think Jesus was referring to when he said, "You cannot enter into the Kingdom of God unless you become like little children". It is not a mistake that we pray at the time of Baptism for the candidate (whether a child or an aduld)
athem O Lord, with your Holy Spirit
Without that kind of wonder we cannot hear Gods call.
G.K. Chesterton, once said, "We have hands that fashion and heads that know: But our hearts we lost - how long ago". God stirs within us that sense of wonder. We were not just intended to diagnose, and calculate, but also to wonder; to admire; to expect the unexpected."
My mind goes back to a time when I counseled a young woman who was having trouble with belief, but the very reason she was there talking to me was that she wanted desperately to believe. Her stumbling block was that she could not reconcile her intellectual understanding of things with the Christian belief . She hit the nail on the head when she said, " How can I believe in a loving God, when most of my professors at the University, much smarter than I will ever be, much more intellectually superior than I am, do not accept a belief in God as reasonable."
My question to her was: "Is our relationship with God based on intellectual understanding alone? on our reasoning ability?" If it were it seems to me that it would be unfair, unjust, on Gods part. If a relationship with God and our wholeness as human beings was dependent on how intellectual a person was , who would have the advantage, who would be more likely to know God and to be whole as human beings. The intellectual? The ones that are smart? Is that fair on Gods part?
That is not the way it is. Everyone one come to God on the same basis, the leap of faith. Thats right, the leap of faith, being able to believe when you do not see. It does not matter whether you are the most intellectual person in the world. It does not matter whether you are the least intellectual in the world. You all come on the same basis, and that is faith. No one has an advantage. Doesnt matter how smart you are. Everyone is equal in faith, the university professor, and the one who could not pass any grades.
Lately, after all my intellectual and critical assessment of scriptures, and consideration of whether Jesus actually came or didnt, and if he did whether he was really resurrected, doesn't mean anything to me. I choose to believe because I know the resurection in my life. The stories in the Scriptures intersect with my personal story. After the death of Jesus the followers of Jesus were in grief. They were in sorrow, They were fearful. They went and hid. In what seemed to be a short period of time their lives were transformed. They went forth into the future with courage, a strength beyond their own, a new sense of purpose and a belief that Christ was still present with them. I believe in resuurection because I have known transformation in my life. I have no way of knowing for sure whether Jesus rose from the dead literally or exactly as it is told in the Gospel stories but there is such a thing as resurrection because through a leap of faith I believe that it takes place now in te midst of our lives. I believe that as surely as I believe that the sun rose this morning even if I did not see it rise. I believe it because I all around me is a world full if light. I know the resurrection is true because I recognize that there is light in the world in the midst of our darkness. I believe it also because like the disciples, lives today can be transformed even in ther midst of their grief and sorrow.
Call it as Rilke did, "the second naiveté", but God has stirred within me the grace to wonder and to admire and to expect the unexpected"
To believe when I cannot see.
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Connect with Deacon Sils
Check Out my daughter's web site CARLY'S STRENGTH designed for helping you build spiritual, mental and physical strength.
Listen to her new song: "BELIEVE " on her web site.
Each year, thousands of women and children become homeless as a result of domestic violence. "The Goddess Within" music project is designed to empower those whose lives have been affected by domestic abuse and to raise awareness of this issue.
"The Goddess Within" compilation album will showcase artists and their songs, written for or relating to those escaping the cycle of violence. The C.D. will be distributed throughout North America and proceeds from the sale of the C.D. will be donated to women's shelters.
More information on the CD is available at ARTISTS FOR CHANGE
My daughter Carly
is featured on the album with her
song The Mask.
Another site to access is Ending Domestic Abuse