Wednesday, December 20, 2006
A Homily Preached at the 7 AM Eucharistic Service of Healing
Week of Advent III – December 20, 2006
the Rev'd Elizabeth Kaeton, rector and pastor
Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Thomas, perhaps more widely known as “Doubting Thomas.”
I love it that he makes a predictable appearance in our lectionary for one holiday and then is a complete surprise for another.
We have come to expect Thomas to show up right after the Resurrection. He’s the one who insists on placing his hands into the wounds of Jesus before he will believe in the resurrection of Christ.
We don’t expect him now – just before the Nativity of our Lord.
If Thomas must place his hands in the wounds of Christ, it appears he must place himself in the womb with Christ before his actual birth, as if to raise for us once again the possibility of doubt as a part of the life of faith.
While I don’t think a belief in the classical definitions of the Atonement is necessary to be a Christian, and I believe that confidence and trust in the power of the Resurrection is an essential element of the Christian faith, I can’t imagine claiming to be a follower of Jesus without belief in the Incarnation.
I mean, what would be the point? How would that make Jesus different from, say, belief in the Buddha, or for that matter, Joan of Arc, or Gandhi, or Martin Luther King, Jr., or any one of the saints who were holy men and women whose teachings were godly and whose deaths were sacrificial?
This past Sunday, we heard John the Baptist (Luke 3:7-18) say, “God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.” If you have any doubt about that, or about the Incarnation of God in Christ Jesus, then not to worry.
‘Doubting Thomas’ will make his appearance, at least on the Calendar of Saints, to keep you company as we travel these last few days of Advent. His presence reminds us that, in the miraculous way of our God, doubt is often as essential to our faith as is wonder and awe.
How, then, is the human mind to take in and comprehend the miracle of the Incarnation?
As we finish all the last minute details of the holiday festivities and begin to make our annual spiritual pilgrimage to Bethlehem to bear witness to the miracle which happened there, perhaps it would be good to take along these adult words of Jesus which he spoke to Thomas at his resurrection: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20:29)
Better yet, perhaps we will need these words of Thomas as we behold the Christ Child, laying in the manger, “My Lord and my God.”