Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons
2nd Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday) | April 11/12, 2015
This homily was written for a Mass given during a Kairos retreat for high school students.
PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the readings here. This homily is based on the Gospel reading, with references to the first reading.
So I need to begin this evening with a confession.
I am someone who has doubted God.
In fact, most of my high school years, I would have counted myself among the ranks of the agnostics. I was unsure of God’s existence and didn’t particularly care to figure it out one way or the other.
But like our dear friend Thomas, I was blessed to have one of those moments in which I experienced God alive and at work in my life. It happened at a retreat just like this one my freshman year of college. I remember just being overwhelmed by this sense of God’s presence, of God’s love in my life.
Like Thomas, I felt that I could authentically proclaim My Lord and my God.
But as the years have gone along, I have come to realize that I also relate to someone else in this story.
I relate to the other disciples. The ones who saw the Risen Christ and yet were still hiding behind locked doors.
It seems that their doubt persisted, even after a real encounter with Christ.
See I would like to tell you that I have been doubt-free since that amazing retreat over a decade ago. But that would not be true.
I have continued to grapple with the same doubts that each of us wrestle with throughout our lives.
I have doubted my God.
I have struggled with whether or not he exists.
I have questioned where he is during those moments when I felt my life was falling apart or when I watched in horror as a teen murdered kindergarteners or extremists burned people alive or an unarmed black man is gunned down as he runs.
I have looked over my life and my faults and foibles and I admit I have wondered if God could really love me as imperfect as I am.
But my doubts have not stopped there.
I have doubted myself.
Whether or not I was good enough, smart enough, holy enough, committed enough, Catholic enough, perfect enough to be a priest, to be an Oblate.
And I have doubted others.
Whether or not I could trust those who had hurt me in the past.
Whether or not people could change.
Whether or not people were really sorry.
I listen to that first reading and a cynical voice in my head laughs. There is no way people could do that today.
We are too self-centered.
Too consumed by our need for stuff, our need to be in charge, our need to be first.
Yes, my friends, we all have our doubts.
Maybe that is why we need to hear this reading every year. To remind us that Easter is not simply an event that happened 2000 years ago. That our decision to believe is not a once and done moment.
Rather faith is a journey that is comprised of millions of moments in which we choose to believe.
In each other
In our God.
Sometimes those moments will be prompted by real experiences of God alive and at work among us.
Experiences like this retreat, in which you have encountered God in the words of those who love you.
In the witness of your brothers who surround you.
In the quiet space in which God has healed your heart.
And other times, we will choose to believe even when our heart is mired in doubt. We will stare into the darkness of night and pray to a God that we are not sure is there.
We will choose to show up, even if we are not quite sure what we will find.
This is what it means to be a disciple my friends.
To be willing to walk the journey that will include locked rooms and empty tombs, crosses on barren hillsides and meals that involve bread and wine.
So that hopefully we too may look in the face of Christ and utter the words of our brother spoken many years ago.
My Lord and my God.
May God be Praised.