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Pastor's Letter 20220424 - 24 April 2022 - Faith and Fellowship

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April 24th, 2022

Second Sunday of Easter


Thomas’ belief is renewed!

A Message from Father Michael

Today’s Theme:  “Faith and Fellowship” 

Reflections on Today’s Scripture

Note:  Without the Acts of the Apostles, much information about the early years of the “Jesus Movement” would have had to be deduced secondhand and indirectly, from other sources.  "Acts” provides the modern reader with a living account of the early Church’s faith in the Risen Lord, and of its subsequent struggle to balance that faith with the trials of persecution, growing pains, inner discord and delayed eschatology (expectations for the “endtimes” of human history.)  

Today’s First Reading (Acts 5:12-16,) is the third of three major summaries that describe the growth of the early Church (See also--Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35.)  Each features the community as close-knit, sharing goods and talents in common, and gathering around the Twelve for liturgical and catechetical nourishment.  Thereby, they actualized structures and institutions, and absorbed the reality of the Resurrection into their daily lives.  


Our Second Reading, from the Apocalypse of John (Revelation 1:9-19,) offers bold evidence that the reality of the promised persecution had come to pass, but also presents the promise of victory and the abiding hope of eternal life.  Using mysterious symbolism, myths, numerology and visions to shape the message, the author wanted his readers to gaze beyond their present sorrows to a bright and blessed future.  Holding all the keys, as Master of life and of death, the Risen Lord was present to offer the confidence of an eventual victory and peace to the persecuted.


Easter’s living legacy is beautifully told in today’s Gospel (John 20:19-31.)  Jesus’ appearance is accompanied by the traditional Jewish greeting of “Peace,” and with the gift of the Spirit.  Thereby, Jesus fulfilled the ancient prophecies of Joel and Ezekiel, as He began the Messianic Era. 

In the person of Thomas we have a case for the value of doubt in the life of faith.  As one who hesitated and questioned, and then moved from skepticism to firmer faith, he is a source of encouragement for serious believers of all ages.  Jesus’ invitation to touch and examine His wounds underscores the very real quality of His glorified body, and put to rest theories that His appearances were simply illusions.  Thomas was called beyond the sensational aspects of the resurrection to a committed faith—not by actually “touching” Jesus, in being challenged to “believe.”  Thomas’ acclamation, “My Lord and my God,” unites the Church’s growing awareness of the Risen Jesus as equal to the eternal Creator and all powerful Lord of all—in one act of faith.  

The Wounded Healer

Whenever damages are repaired, we tend to forget how those injuries were incurred.  Perhaps that is why Jesus appeared to His disciples with a glorified body, that still possessed the wounds of His Passion and death.  Also, those wounds enabled the apostles to recognize Him.  The same Jesus Who, during His life, manifested His power over evil, is the One in Whom God has manifested His power over death.  Additionally, those wounds were the proof of His love.  Jesus didn’t simply “talk” about love, He gave every example—as proven by His mortal wounds—as the Good Shepherd, who suffered in defense of His flock.

Jesus’ sacred and precious wounds have become a source of consolation, courage and hope to everyone who has to come to terms with their own challenges.  By helping us not to be selfish, we are healed of self-pity and the sense of victimhood.

Because we believe that displaying our “wounds” would deny us respect, we have a tendency to hide them. However, those who don’t disguise their own struggles, and instead, live through them, give hope to others.  Understanding of one’s own pain enables people to convert their weakness into strength and to offer their own experience as a source of healing to others.  


An increase in fundamentalism can be seen all around us, today.  Frightened by the absence of certainties, many people have retreated into a strict, literal interpretation of Scripture.  It can be very attractive, in that it provides a simple, straight path to understanding.  But it also can be an impoverished way of seeing reality.  By presenting life in a “one-dimensional” way, it deprives faith of its richness—resulting in a rigid, simplistic, moralistic and authoritative religion.  Rather than remaining individuals, with separate stories to tell, people can be cajoled into following the same path.  

The fundamentalist faith can very well offer a safe way, protecting one from the difficult work of finding one’s own meaning and values.  It spares a person the anxiety of dealing with choice, responsibility and a continually changing sense of self.  Taken as faith, however, it is born out of insecurity….

For a fundamentalist, religion is just a part of life.  For the non-fundamentalist, however, religion is life, seen and lived from a religious perspective.  Every fact receives a two-fold, if not a three-fold, significance, and is, therefore, richer and more mysterious.  Such faith fills our life “to the brim” with things without which they would have no meaning, and our souls would wither and die.  

Jesus didn’t encourage fundamentalism….  He didn’t want blind followers, instead, He tried to open people’s eyes.  Rather than threaten or coerce, He invited, wanting people to follow Him freely, with both eyes open.  And, He came that we might have life, not just in the hereafter, but here, on earth, as well—and live it to the full! 

Crisis of Faith

Some people are “born into” a religious faith.  In such cases, over time, they may find it increasingly strong and sustaining.  To possess faith is a tremendous blessing.  But for those without faith, life may become a constant, meaningless struggle.  Some may even have to undergo a crisis in order to arrive at a deep and personal faith.  

Only faith can answer the most important and profound questions of life.  But we must not expect faith to “clear everything up” for us.  Just because we believe, doesn’t mean we know all the answers.  Indeed, we don’t need them all, as faith is trust, not certainty.

Leo Tolstoy may serve as an illustration.  Having written his two great novels, War and Peace, and Anna Karenina, he had every reason to be satisfied in his life.  Nonetheless, in 1879, at 51-years of age, he felt miserable and unfulfilled.  He wondered if there was any meaning in life that would not be destroyed by death.  In such a painful mood, he contemplated suicide, having searched in vain for life’s significance.  

Having been raised in a Christian home, he had long since discarded Christianity, due to the contradictions he saw in the lives of those who professed it.  Nonetheless, these same beliefs attracted him, and seemed sensible when he encountered people who lived by them.  So it was that he was drawn back into Christianity, and found it full of meaning.  He wrote:  “I thought there was no sure truth in life.  But then, I found a sure source of light in the Gospel, and was dazzled by its splendor.  In Jesus’ teachings, I found the purest and most complete doctrine for life.  For [nearly] two thousand years, [His] lofty and precious teachings have exercised an influence over [people] in a way unequaled by anyone else.  A light shone within me and around me, and this light has not abandoned me since.” 

Our Christian faith is centered upon a Person Who loves us, and has the wounds to prove it.  At the heart of Biblical faith is not only our faith in God…but God's faith in us….

May God Richly Bless You!

"The story of Doubting Thomas is told, not so that we shall admire Thomas, but so that we can admire the other apostles, in comparison.  Thomas demanded evidence...the other apostles, whose faith was so strong they did not need evidence, are held to us as worthy of imitation."

~~Richard Dawkins~~

Canticle of Fellowship.docx 

To view a video of today's Holy Mass, click here:  https://youtu.be/cNgJYNYkYl4



Edited by Father Michael
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