Tuesday July 3, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Ephesians 2:19-22) Gospel (St. John 20:24-29)
As we celebrate today this feast of Saint Thomas, we tend to equate Thomas with a doubter. We think of Thomas often in a negative way. Yet, we can think about how many people throughout history have been positively influenced by Saint Thomas because of this particular story. He was able to say, "My Lord and my God," when he saw Jesus. Many have been able to say the exact same thing. The reason why they can say it is because Thomas doubted and Saint John wrote that story down for us so we can see that it was not some fairy tale the disciples made up saying, "Let us start this little myth and see if we can fool some people by telling them that Jesus rose from the dead." Rather, it was real. It was so real that it did not make sense. When Thomas did not see it himself, even though all the other disciples were telling him, he would not believe.
When we think about that, we can say, "Well, didn't Jesus tell him he was going to rise from the dead? Didn't they have this idea?" Of course, we also know from the Scriptures that they did not understand what it meant to "rise from the dead." But also what we have to see in this and apply to ourselves is that it is precisely the people who struggle the most who are going to make the greatest saints. When you deal with the spiritual life, we will be on the opposite end if we do the opposite of what we are doing now. In other words, if we are just sort of blasé and mediocre in the spiritual life, we really do not care a lot, and then we have a conversion, we will just be lukewarm Catholics. But if we really struggle and we do not really believe and then we have a conversion, we are going to go the other way.
The same is true on the other side. If the holiest people in the world would decide that they did not want to serve God anymore they would become the worst sinners the world has ever known. So when you see Saint Thomas who is adamant in his unbelief, it means that when he reached that conversion point, he became adamant in his belief. So adamant, in fact, that he would travel all over the place and finally suffer a martyr's death, being thrust through from behind with a spear in India, where he met his death.
We can look at Thomas and his unbelief and apply this to ourselves. When we can say, "My Lord and my God," and we have that faith, then we can see what Saint Paul is talking about in the first reading. We are strangers and aliens no longer, but rather we are fellow citizens and members of the household of God because of the faith that we have in Christ. But we also need to look at ourselves and ask ourselves very seriously, "Am I a lukewarm type? Am I going through the motions and living it out but not really zealous for the Lord? Or am I going to be the type that, once I really embrace this, there is not going to be any stopping me? If I am going to consider myself a fellow citizen and a member of the household of God, am I living that? Am I telling others about it? Am I going out to the world and telling the Good News? Or am I hiding it, pulled back, and fearfully saying, "Yes, I believe," but not being confident in that belief, not being zealous in that belief?"
The Lord wants us to be saints and He wants us to be zealous in our belief. That means to live the faith that we profess. It does not mean we have to go and set up a soapbox on the street corner and preach, but it means we have to live it. It means that we cannot back down when others do not live it because we want to fit in with others or because it is too difficult for us. If, like Thomas, we come to that point of belief and we say, "Yes, I believe. My Lord and my God," then if He is Lord, He is Master. We should never ever be embarrassed of Our Lord and Master. We should never be embarrassed of our God. If we are embarrassed by Jesus Christ, then we need to look very seriously at ourselves and ask, "What is wrong with me? Why am I embarrassed of the One whom I proclaim to be my Lord and my God? If I am a member of this family, then I need to proclaim it. I should never be embarrassed of the Lord, but rather go out to the whole world and tell the Good News."
Note: Father Altier does not write his homilies in advance, but relies solely upon the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.