Monday, April 24, 2017

Sermon for 4/23/17: Second Sunday of Easter

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Doubt and Faith

ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

            Thomas doesn’t deserve all the accusations we throw at him. Well, maybe he does, but he is not alone in his doubt. All the disciples doubted. All were frightened. All thought that they were seeing a ghost. And all of them falsely believed that Jesus was not standing before them in a real, tangible resurrected body, but that He had discarded our flesh in favor of some unreal apparition. It is Thomas who draws them out, and in doing so, he lets us see what they at first did not see, and he helps us believe what they at first could not believe.
But notice how difficult it is for him—and for us—to believe. First, we must believe against what we think is reasonable, discard what we are sure is true, and suppress what we feel is good and right. Thomas had to do that because he was absent when Jesus first appeared to the apostles. And when he returned, the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But Thomas refused to believe what he heard. He preferred, instead, what made sense and what felt right.
And so, for the sake of Thomas—and also for your sake—the Lord comes again as He came before. The doors are barred shut. Yet Jesus stands in the midst and says to them, “Peace to you.” The resurrected Lord shows Thomas the nails wounds on His hands, and invites Thomas to touch the wound in His side. Don’t think that any of this was an accident. None of this happened by chance. Our Lord’s compassion exposed the doubt of Thomas so that we might believe. For when the doubting disciple touched the wounds in His Master’s body, Our Blessed Lord then cures the wounds of our unbelief and soothes the aches of our doubts and fears.
So the disciple’s unbelief was of more advantage to your faith than the faith of the other ten. For when Thomas is led back to faith by seeing and touching Jesus in the flesh, you too are made firm in your faith. You are taught to believe that our Lord truly does rise from the dead; He really can convert your dying body into a glorified, resurrected body by the same power that enabled Him to overwhelm death. You believe in and confess the resurrection not just of the soul or spirit, but also of the body—the same body you live in now. You believe in and confess “the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.” You bring your infants and children to Baptism with the confidence that, if they hold to the faith, the Holy Spirit will raise them in their bodies and give them and all believers in Christ eternal life. You come forward to the altar, where He gives you His holy Body and precious Blood, where He invites you to put away your doubts and fears, and instead to trust and rely and depend completely and absolutely on Him for all things and at all times.
“Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” That is what Our Lord says, not just to Thomas, but also to you. Do not fear what man can do to you. Do not let your heart be troubled. Christ has already overcome everything that frightens and troubles you. And in the waters of Holy Baptism, He has given you His victory. No longer will fear run your life. No longer can sin control you. Flee from your fears, resist your sinful urges, confess your sins, and be reconciled to God and man. For the same Jesus who showed Thomas His hands and side has gained for you the victory over sin and death, and He will raise you up in your body. “Faith shall cry as fails each sense: Jesus is my confidence!” ALLELUIA! CHRIST IS RISEN! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always.  Amen.   

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