2nd Sunday of Easter
April 28, 2019
4pm at Saint Mary Parish, Pylesville
11am at Saint Matthew Parish, Baltimore
A Couple’s Struggle
This past week, I received an email from a young man named Sean.
Sean and his wife Sharon are in their late twenties. I have known Sean since he was a little boy and I even gave him his First Communion.
Sean emailed me saying that they are considering having their five-month-old baby baptized and would like me to do it. However, they are not sure about this because of where they are with their faith.
Sean wrote this: “Dear Father Mike, I wanted to reach out to you. In full transparency, my wife and I identify as agnostics and are trying to discover our beliefs and path.
“We plan on raising our daughter understanding Christianity while also being exposed to many other faith traditions. We would like to have her baptized out of respect for our family’s belief and because of our own Catholic upbringing.
“Understanding our current situation, would you be comfortable in baptizing our daughter? We are open to discussing this in further detail.”
Well, Sean and Sharon and I have begun talking and we will discern what is appropriate to do.
I share this email because today’s gospel is also about a struggle with faith. It’s interesting that in our Catholic liturgy, there is a three-year cycle of readings.
So, over three years, we hear a wide variety of passages and seldom is a gospel repeated. But, on this Sunday after Easter, the gospel reading is the same every year – the same for all three cycles of readings.
Why? Why is this story about Thomas struggling with his faith always read on this Sunday?
I think it is because the Church knows that faith in the risen Christ and in our own resurrection is challenging. It hits us directly with the question: do you believe?
I want to make two recommendations that might help us or someone we know who is struggling with faith.
First, focus on the gospels. The gospels, taken as a whole, give us a healthy, full, and accurate image of God.
Don’t focus so much on the Old Testament which sometimes portrays God as simply a judge who is punishing and even vindictive. Some of that seeps into the New Testament.
But the thrust of the New Testament is very different. We see Jesus healing and not hurting, guiding and not coercing, lifting up and not putting down, accepting and not rejecting.
This is the image of God that Jesus gives us. So, focus on the gospels as the heart of faith.
My second recommendation is to work at developing a relationship with Jesus. In each passage of the gospel, imagine that Jesus is speaking to you.
Ask: what is Jesus, God, saying to me in this passage? What is he saying about me or my life?
In turn, speak to Jesus in your own words. Tell him what you are thinking, how you are feeling, and where you are struggling.
This approach allows God to be a person and not just an abstraction or a list of truths. It allows faith to be a relationship and that may end up satisfying much of our struggling.
The last thing I want to say is to see our faith as a decision to trust – to trust in the person of God.
Father Richard Rohr expresses this in a way that I find very helpful. Father Rohr is a Franciscan priest, a theologian, and an author of many books and articles.
He says this: “I believe that faith may be the ability to trust the Big River of God’s providential love, which is the visible embodiment (the Son), the flow (the Holy Spirit), and the source itself (the Father).” So, he sees faith primarily as trust and he likens God to a big river of love.
“I believe that faith may be the ability to trust the Big River of God’s providential love, which is the visible embodiment (the Son), the flow (the Holy Spirit), and the source itself (the Father).”Maybe that approach will help us and others when we are struggling with faith.