Wednesday July 3, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Ephesians 2:19-22) Gospel (St. John 20:24-29)
As we celebrate this feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle, we need to think about the words of Saint Paul when he says, "You are members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets." Now, here we have an apostle who is denying the Resurrection of the Lord: "I will not believe it. Until I can put my finger in the nail marks and put my hand in His side, I'm not going to believe it." It is not that we are built upon his doubt, but it is the act of faith when he was able to look at Our Lord and say, "My Lord and my God." When we look at the other apostles we are going to see their weaknesses very clearly as well. Then all we need to do is look back at ourselves and realize that we are no different.
But how much Thomas has done for probably millions and millions of people over the centuries who have read this story and have been able, then, to look at Our Lord in the Eucharist and to struggle with their doubts of whether He is really there. "It only looks like a piece of bread. Unless I see something, I'm not going to believe. Unless I can feel something inside when I receive Holy Communion, I'm not going to believe." And as they struggle with it and Our Lord gives to them the grace, not to see, not to feel, but to believe because it is based on His Word, they can look at the Blessed Sacrament and say, 'My Lord and my God,' just as Thomas did.
Then we realize we truly are built upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. We are no different than they are. How many people will be able to look at Peter walking on the waves and sinking and say, "I'm just like that"? How many people can look at what Saint Paul did and say, "I'm just like that"? How many can look at Simon the Zealot, who wanted to charge off and do all these extraordinary things and take the world by force, and say, "We're just like that"? We are just like all the apostles. We are weak human beings like James and John, who want to call fire down from the sky and destroy the people when it does not go our way. And we are all like Thomas at one time or another - or, for many of us, time after time after time - we doubt and we struggle with the faith. Yet we can look at him and we can have great hope because Thomas, after this event, was willing to go out to the furthest corners of the known world at that point and brought himself to India to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was willing to die a martyr for the faith in the Person and the Resurrection that he had doubted and even denied.
So too, for ourselves, when we look at our own struggles and our own weaknesses, and as we can work with those and pray our way through it and trust in the grace of the Lord, we too are going to be able to use those very things that were the stumbling blocks in our lives, the very things that were the greatest weaknesses for us. Those will become the very things that will propel us into great sanctity. They will become the very things that we will be able to preach to all the world. So here we have Thomas, who denied the Resurrection, and went out and preached the Resurrection to countless people and brought about their conversion to the Lord on the very point that he had doubted. And so it will be for each one of us: The very things that were often the biggest struggle for us, they become the very means of the greatest conversion within our lives. When we can finally accept that, it becomes the very point that is the stronghold for us.
If there are any struggles, if there are any doubts in our mind, if there are any difficulties as you think about all the teachings of the Church, the thing is not to get worried, but to pray and to trust and to look at Thomas and to ask for his prayers so that like him you will be able to believe, not because you have seen but because it is the teaching of Jesus Christ. Our Lord says, "Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." That is what faith is all about, not seeing, not being able to experience anything extraordinary, but rather, accepting blindly in the darkness and to be able to say "yes" even without seeing. The Lord pronounces those people blessed.
In the midst of our doubts, we must trust that God will use those doubts to bring about great good. For our part, it is to continue to pray, to continue to trust, and just wait, because when the Lord's grace descends upon us we are going to be filled with a faith that is going to be firm and solid, truly built on bedrock, on the rock which is Peter, the rock of the apostles and the prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone and the capstone. We become members of that living temple of the Lord, members of the very household of God, only when we have that faith - not a superficial faith but a deep and profound faith - to say absolutely and unswervingly "yes" to Jesus Christ, even to the point of death.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.