April 19, 2009

EASTER II (B)

Thomas Ö one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.

- John 20: 24

Every Christmas & Easter, major weekly magazines feature Christian themes on their covers. Tree-fourths of the cover articles raise new theories that debunk traditional Christianity with the caveat: ďOf course, some noted theologians & Scripture scholars disagree.Ē Still, the impression has been made & the doubts sown.

All of this happens in the context of great publicity about Pope Pius XII & the Jews in WW II, the gospels of Thomas, Mary Magdalene & other Gnostic gospels, not to mention the enormous popularity of The Da Vinci Code that passes off gross misinformation as fact. This has provoked a spate of anti-Christian, anti-Catholic books riding on the trend as best-sellers.

No doubt about it, people in general & especially Catholics are puzzled & confused, since most of the books, TV fare, & movies are specifically about the Catholic Church. Worse, many Catholics have not only read these books & the magazine & newspaper articles about them, but many half-believe them, just as they read & half-believe the half-baked bestselling Left Behind books. They all sound so plausible.

Who can contest them? Sadly, very few; for the fact is that most Catholics suffer from what can be called the Thomas Syndrome, which does not refer to his doubt but to his absence. Since he was not there when the risen Jesus first appeared in the upper room, he had no defense against false information & rumors about Jesus, & so his faith wavered. Thatís us. Not seeing or hearing Jesus or learning about Him, we see & hear everyone else & have no way of knowing whether itís true or not. Not knowing the Church tradition about Him or His mission or message, we have no comeback, nothing to draw on to critique what is being said.

Too many Catholics are religiously illiterate, & so are absent from sufficient knowledge about our faith. How long has it been since we checked our religious facts or studied our faith? Are we still trying to live an adult Christian life based on spotty grade-school or CCD religious knowledge? We know that to make a living we have to keep up with developments in our career field but neglect our spiritual development. This simply wonít work anymore.

We have to ask ourselves, when was the last time any of us read a book about our faith, took a course, took part in a Bible-study group, or upgraded our religious knowledge? Do we even have good Catholic magazines, CDs, or DVDs in our homes that might offer a counter-cultural view of life & answer our questions? All the stuff avalanching out of the secular media is overwhelming. It sows doubt & confusion because, like Thomas, we were not with the disciples when Jesus came. We canít evangelize because we donít know what to say. Todayís Gospel reminds us that the Thomas Syndrome is a timely affliction that we canít afford to ignore. Until we deal with it, we cannot say with conviction, ďMy Lord & my God!Ē AMEN!