Wrestling to Make Our Faith Our Own

2nd Sunday of Easter, Year A | April 16, 2023

See today’s readings here. Video recordings of the Sunday evening Mass, where Fr. Brian regularly preaches, are available on Facebook at Delaware Koinonia. The archive of all of Fr. Brian’s homilies can be found hereSalesian Sermons

So earlier this week one of my friends sends me a text . . . Can I do a guest homily?  Because I have a REALLY kind of interesting, kinda funny, kinda scary one for you.

Ok.  I’ll bite.  What do you got for me?

And he then proceeds to send me a homily produced by ChatGPT, the AI program that has been intriguing, amusing and scaring people over the last few weeks.  And to make it even better, he asked ChatGPT to do it in a Fr. Brian style.

Now, I gotta admit, theologically, it was pretty solid.  Well written.  Though shorter than any homily I have ever given.  And probably a tad more orthodox than you all are used to.

But it was missing something.

There was no story.  No memory.  No embarrassing or heartbreaking moments.  No reflection on my journey.

Nothing that made it truly mine.

And though its content was great, it ultimately did nothing for me.  

Because I have come to realize that I what I choose to invest in, what I choose to believe.  It has to become part of my story.

I have no time for mere academic exercises anymore.  Or hypothetical what ifs.  

If I am going to have faith in something, it needs to somehow connect with this beautiful, crazy, devastating, inspiring experience I call life.

It has to be rooted in my life as it is, with its laughs and tears.  With its relationships and the unique work I’ve been called to.  With its lessons learned and crosses shouldered, with its mistakes made and moments that took my breath away.

Which is why I really connect with Thomas.

Because he had no time for false hope.  Cheap words of Resurrection.

He needed to see the wounds.  The evidence that this man that he had journeyed with was truly back.  

He needed to connect Resurrection to the story that was his life.  He needed to root it in what was already real and true.

He needed to place it next to his experience of the miracles and the parables, the Last Supper, the crucifixion, and the sealed tomb.

And only then, could he declare my Lord and my God.

It was never going to be enough to simply hear someone’s else beliefs.  He needed to figure out how to make it his own.

My friends, in many ways I understand the appeal of ChapGPT.  Easy answers.  Cheap conclusions. 

Ones in which we don’t need to invest.

Nothing to wrestle with.  Nothing to question.  Nothing to doubt.

But that isn’t life.

Anything worth truly putting our faith in is going to demand more than a simple intellectual assent.

It will involve investing our entire lives, exactly as they are.

It will mean wrestling with what resurrection means to us in our own lives, with their disappointments and dead-ends, with their losses and failures.

It will mean wrestling with who God is for us.  After a lifetime in which we have experienced both absence and presence.  When we have as many questions as answers.  When we have stood in awe-filled silence before the infinite.  And when we have stared into the abyss.

It will mean wrestling with what it means to be part of the Church.  This community of faith in which we have been embraced and rejected, bored and inspired, challenged and comforted, infuriated and sent forth to be the light.

It will mean wrestling with what we believe.  And how those beliefs shape our lives. What we say yes to.  What gets us up in the morning.  What we read, how we vote, how we spend our money.  Who we choose to spend our time with.  Who and what we choose to love.

It will mean connecting our beliefs to our story.  And letting them shape one another into who we are and who we will be.

This is the day the Lord has made.

This is the story we’ve been told.

Let us rejoice and be glad in it.  

May God be Praised 

IMAGE ATTRIBUTION: LeCompte, Rowan and Irene LeCompte. Christ shows himself to Thomas, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=54879 [retrieved April 16, 2023]. Original source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/maryannsolari/5119341372/.

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