“YOU BELIEVE BECAUSE YOU can see me.  Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe."  Hearing those words of the risen Christ to the Doubting Thomas for the first time, one may get the impression that there are two types of disciples-those who believe because they have seen, and those who have not seen and yet believe.  But in fact, we may speak of three types of Christians because there are two groups of those who do not believe.  There are those whose unbelief has led into fear.  They are in the Church, no doubt, but in fear and out of fear.  They are not really believers.  Then there are those whose unbelief has led out of the Church.  And there are those who, like the apostles in the Acts of the Apostles after Pentecost, gather together to bear a common testimony to the power of the resurrection.     

The first group, those who are found in the Church and who gather in the Church in fear and out of fear, are like the disciples in the Gospel according to John.  In the evening of the day Jesus resurrected, he appeared to them while they were hiding in a room behind closed doors, for fear of the Jews. Having seen the way their Master was humiliated, tortured and killed, they were afraid of going out. They gathered in a room. They gathered in hiding. They gathered in fear.  The way the Gospel describes them describes many Christians, many of us. Like the disciples who gathered in a room, we too gather in a room, and that room is the Church. Like the disciples who gathered in a room, we gather in the Church. That is one similarity.

But there is another similarity. The disciples gathered in fear. Many of us too gather in the Church in fear. We come to Church in fear. We live in fear, and we bring our fears to Church. We are afraid of sickness.  We are afraid of death. We are afraid of failure. And what we fear we deny in wishful thinking.  "It is not my portion". But, is sickness the portion of those who are sick?

Some young women are afraid because they are still single. Some who are married live in fear of barreness. Many are afraid of evil spirits. Like the disciples who were locked up in fear of the Jews, many Christians are afraid of witchcraft.  Fear is lack of confidence. Fear is lack of faith. If we have faith we will not live in fear. If we do not have faith in God then our fear has just begun, and it will only get more and more serious.

The second group, is the group of those who have left the Church, those whose unbelief has led away from the Church.  That group is represented by the Doubting Thomas.  When fear leads to unbelief, we either remain in the Church in fear, like the disciples in today's Gospel, or, like the doubting Thomas, we leave the Church in our unbelief. And that has happened to many Catholics. Their fear led to unbelief in what the Catholic Church teaches, and their unbelief led them into the hands of emergency pastors and fake prophets.  Thomas was not in the room when Jesus appeared. The other disciples did not believe Jesus had risen even after the testimony of Mary Magdalen. So they remained locked up in their fear. Thomas was outside in his unbelief.  Thomas represents the man or woman who left the Church, who remains outside the Church in unbelief.  So, we have Christians who remain in the Church in fear, and we have Catholics who leave the Church out of unbelief. Their unbelief drove them into fear, and their fear drove them out of the Church into the hands of fake evangelists who promise them miracles.

Like Thomas, they will only believe when they see signs and wonders. Remember what Thomas said when he returned to the room and they told him that they had seen Jesus: "Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hands into his side, I refuse to believe."  Is that not what many of us are saying?

Using the language of the doubting Thomas, many of us are saying: unless I see signs and wonders I refuse to believe. Unless I hear people speak in tongues, I refuse to believe. Unless I see people rolling on the ground I refuse to believe. Those are the words of unbelievers. And many of us are unbelievers even though we come to Church. We come to Church because we are looking for signs and wonders.  If God were to give a televised press conference on Saturday night, and announced that there would be no miracle the following Sunday morning, we would not be in Church. Like Thomas, unless we see signs and wonders, we refuse to believe. And there are some workers of fake miracles outside and inside the Church deceiving us in our unbelief.

In our unbelief, many of us Catholics no longer believe in the sacraments. We do not believe in the power of the sacrament of baptism so we look for deliverance, forgetting that we were delivered from the power of the evil one when we were baptised and claimed  for Christ. We no longer believe in the holy Eucharist, the Mass, the greatest gift Jesus has given to us, the gift of his body and bloood, the greatest of all signs, the greatest miracle. We believe more in our all-night vigils, crusades, revivals and prayer meetings than we believe in the Eucharist.

Here at Mass, as we say in the Memorial Acclamation after consecration: we gather to proclaim the death of our Lord, we gather to celebrate his resurrection until he comes again. We gather at Mass to testify to the power of the crucified and risen Christ, as the believers in the Acts of the Apostles did-the third group of Christians. The Eucharist is the greatest sign of the greatest miracle-miracle of the resurrection, miracle of love that conquers death. We share in the power of the risen Christ when we receive his body and his blood. Do you believe this?

If you do, then the words Jesus spoke to the disciples are spoken to you. "As the Father has sent me, so am I sending you." At the end of every Mass, Jesus speaks those words to us through the priest or deacon when the priest or deacon says: "Go and proclaim the Gospel."  Go and witness to the Gospel by your life. Go and bear witness to the power of the risen Christ by loving God and by loving your neighbour. Love is what will change the world for good. With love in the world, husbands will not cheat on their wives and wives will not cheat on their husbands; with love in the world politicians will not decieve the people when they campaign for votes, they will not steal huge sums of money that belong to the people.

Let us, therefore, put an end to man's inhumanity to man. After the Mass, let us begin the mission.  Let us go into the world and bear witness to love by our lives.

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