Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - I believe, Lord, help my unbelief
We all have moments of doubts and uncertainties in our daily decisions. Religious belief is no different. It is not as simple as "we believe, or we do not believe". Our Faith is, rather, a leap into the unknown that we must renew frequently as the implications of Christian commitment continue to unfold for us.

Acts 4:32-35 The implications of their commitment to Christ soon became apparent to the early Christian communities - dynamic testimony by the Apostles plus deep seated community awareness by the disciples exemplified by their generosity.

1 John 5:1-6 John sets himself to counter a tendency by some to who wanted to discount the Crucifixion because, for them, it was a scandal, and to concentrate only on the glory of the Resurrection. John makes it clear that you can't have one without the other. Christian faith combines both suffering and good times.

John 20: 19-31 Today's central figure, Thomas, was up against this problem of uncertainty - to believe or not to believe. His reservations, however, were overcome by Christ's invitation to carry out

the tests that he had decided on - to touch the wounds.

Point 1: Life is made up of imponderables. As a songwriter of yesteryear put it -"Decisions; decisions; decisions". We are always making them - should we quit our job and try a new one? Should we marry, or not? Buy a new house or car? How to discipline an unruly child? How to answer that same child's questions? And for others, sadly, the big, big question -"To be or not to be!" Our inability to come up with a ready answer to our many doubts sometimes is due to weakness; at other times, it is due to lack of information. For whatever reason, people do waver and falter. And it is no different in the matter of religious faith. Frequently, Christ took the disciples to task because they doubted -[Mat 16:8] And becoming aware of it, Jesus said, "You of little faith, why are you talking about having no bread?

And when he rescued Peter, the same comment - [Mat 14:31] Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?"

Point 2: In today's scientific age, of course, we have many answers to many questions; and yet, faith still plays a great part in our information data base. Sheer convenience, if for no other reason, compels us to take a lot of our information on faith. We simply do not have the time , or the ability, frequently, to investigate everything to see whether we are being deceived. Whilst we maintain a healthy scepticism about a lot of things, only the unbalanced try to be sceptical about everything. Trusting others is built into the human condition.

Conclusion: The big choice for people is to accept Christ or not to accept Him. It is a choice each of us has and, in choosing, it helps to realise that one can see but not necessarily believe; and one can believe without actually seeing. Education is not an infallible gateway to belief. A university professor may have no faith, whilst a a simple labourer may have faith to move mountains. And, again, once the decision to believe is made, it is not always a cut and dried fact. The approach is different for each person. Unlike pregnancy - where one is or one isn't - faith can be present in degrees. And it needs to be renewed regularly as the implications of Christian acceptance constantly unfold. One frequently hears of a person whose faith is being tested - the loss of a loved one; incredible injustices being perpetrated; the prolonged, agonising terminal illness of a loved one. What's new! The Israelites in the desert were tested; Christ was tested; the Apostles were tested. All the great saints have experienced moments when their Faith has been challenged to the depths. What we need to realise is that a faith challenged is frequently a faith strengthened. It is par for the course in the faith journey. [Jer 17:10] I the LORD test the mind and search the heart, to give to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their doings. But, with each repeated leap of faith in our lives, faith grows stronger. Whilst it is never easy to capitulate as completely as Thomas did with his "My Lord and My God", we can always state "I believe, Lord, help my unbelief".

Scriptural reference: [Mark 5:36] But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, "Do not fear, only believe."