This weekend we mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. For most of us, our knowledge of this once unthinkable possibility came through the movie featuring Leonardo DiCaprio. Those who designed and built the ship …. those who manned the crew …. those who sailed all shared one thought, one belief — this ship is unsinkable. Then, the unbelievable happened.
The experience of Thomas in this weekend’s Gospel [John 20:19-31] challenges us to ask: what do we believe and why do we believe it?
1- The power of belief helps us to achieve amazing things. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale made famous the “power of positive thinking”. On the other hand, “stinking thinking” can lead us down a path of darkness and defeat.
Athletic teams of lesser abilities have overcome more talented teams with strong convictions and belief in themselves. Strong beliefs will not always lead to victory, but weak beliefs rarely will lead to victory.
Where are you on the belief scale … 4? 6? 8? Where is your belief and trust in God? In yourself? In your friends and your family? In the Church or organized religion?
Do you have to see or touch or taste in order to believe? What causes dis-belief on your part?
Is there something you can do, need to do to strengthen your belief? Face the unbelief, name the hurt, probe the pain?
One thing is for sure, like Thomas, when we cut ourselves off from others, the dis-belief can overcome us. When gathered with people of courage and faith, we can encounter the living Christ among us …. to remove the unbelief and to strengthen our belief.
2- Believing in things that are not true can cause us to do stupid things. Remember all those folks who invested their life savings in promoting the message that the world was going to end on May 21, 2011 — then sometime in November of 2011?
Perhaps we have followed a path that in reality should have not been believed. Perhaps we have listened to someone who told us something “too good to believe”.
A little bit of dis-belief is not all bad.
3- Belief in Jesus is the ONE BELIEF that transforms our lives over and over again. The Gospel concludes with words, “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not recorded here.” Jesus keeps doing what many people think is impossible — he restores the downtrodden and the defeated …. he lifts up the lowly — he allows the unlikely to win …. he gives us hope when there is no reason to hope. People are moved to help others with generous support.
This weekend, we not only ask who do we believe and what do we believe … but in particular, we are asked “do we believe in the mercy of God?'” A mercy that wipes out our sin and enables us to be forgiven without doing anything! God’s Divine Mercy is here for all who believe in him by accepting his gift and sharing it with others …. this is a weekend to cherish God’s love and then to give it to others …….so that they in turn can believe.
How much do we believe in the Church these days? How about Church leaders? Why do you believe? Why do you not believe?
What makes us believe is experience. We believe in what we know. We believe in what we experience. Without the experience, the knowledge is in the head and not so much in the heart.
Let’s be wise in what we accept in belief.