“Men despise religion; they hate it and fear it is true. To remedy this, we must begin by showing that religion is not contrary to reason; that it is venerable, to inspire respect for it; then we must make it lovable, to make good men hope it is true; finally, we must prove it is true. Venerable, because it has perfect knowledge of man; lovable because it promises the true good.” — Blaise Pascal, Pensées (187)
Gospel Text: (JN 14:7-14)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“If you know me, then you will also know my Father.
From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to Jesus,
“Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time
and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?
The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own.
The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.
Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me,
or else, believe because of the works themselves.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes in me will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father.
And whatever you ask in my name, I will do,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.”
Do you remember a few months ago when the flu was going around? This was an epidemic that hit just about everyone. Well, there’s a SPIRITUAL VIRUS that has been going around Christian circles for centuries, and it’s CALLED DOUBT. And if you haven’t caught it yet, you probably will. In fact, we could divide this room into three groups. The first group would be those who have doubted. The second group would be those who haven’t doubted yet, but who will. And the third group would be those who are probably not being sincere about their occasional doubts.
So the question isn’t, "Will you catch the virus of doubt?" You probably will. The big question is, "How can you prevent that virus from turning into a terminal disease that ultimately kills your faith?"
The problem is that some Christians leave their doubt untreated because they don’t want to admit they have it. They erroneously think that to be a real Christian, you must have absolute certainty about everything regarding the faith, and so they’re afraid to admit it when doubt starts eating away at them. Many of us think of faith and doubt as opposites. But that’s not really true. Faith and apathy are more opposite than faith and doubt. But doubt is often a key part of the journey of faith. It’s a stop along the way that most of us make more than once. And when we find ourselves there, it’s not an indication of us being bad Christians or disbelievers. It’s a sign that we are taking our relationship with God seriously enough that we are letting ourselves be honest, and we are letting ourselves start a journey without knowing exactly sure where we are going.
Maybe you doubt that God has really forgiven you. Or you wonder whether the Bible really is the Word of God. Or you question why God lets people suffer. Or you’ve been praying for help with a struggle in your life, but so far there has been silence, and you’re wondering whether anybody’s at home in heaven, or there is, whether He really cares.
It is important to not confuse faith with certitudes. Faith is about trust and commitment, not about certainties. People who have lots of certainties and no doubts tend to huddle up in elitist groups, and judge those who are not like them. That is not what we are called to do.
Our challenge is to step out into the unknown by trusting God with our lives, despite the lack of certainties and guarantees. We are invited to ask difficult questions, to enquire and reflect – this being the only way to seek God and grow in faith. God is not afraid of our questions. He made us this way. He welcomes our questions and focuses his attention on each one of us, according to our own individual needs, in our own time.