1.Acts 5: 12-16
2. Rev 1:9-11, 12-13,13-17, 17-19
 Gospel: John 20: 19-31

                   "Meeting Christ in Christian Worship"

There was an elderly pastor who looked over his large congregation on Easter morning and startled them with this announcement: " My friends, realizing that I will not see many of you until next Easter, may I take this opportunity to wish all of you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!" The difference in the size of the congregation on Easter Sunday and on the other Sundays of the year is very noticeable. Many of our Christians, as far as church attendance is concerned, have indeed become Holy Week Christians: you see them in church only during the Holy Week. Like a certain man who was criticizing his pastor. "  I have attended this church for three consecutive years, " he says, " and each time the homily is always on the same topic. Doesn't he have something  else to talk about?" Yes, this man has been attending the church for three years alright; but he only attends on Easter Sunday and he always hears a homily on the resurrection of Christ.

We can ask ourselves this simple question that why are many well- meaning Christians so uncommitted to attending regular Sunday church services? the answer can be given in one word: doubt or crisis of faith. People today like people of all times, do have a hunger for God. They are searching for the meaning of life. But they doubt whether the answer to these existential questions can be found within the four walls of the church. It is under this background that they are more disposed to spend time in social action, in work, and in intellectual pursuit rather than in church worship. Today's gospel gives us an example of a man who felt exactly like that, His name is Thomas.

There is a French philosopher who proposed an argument designed to encourage people to believe in God. He called it the " Wager Argument." "If I believe in God and there is no God, I lose nothing. If I don't believe in God and there is God, I lose everything.

The second Sunday of Easter is called the day of the ' Doubting Thomas.' The gospel is about Thomas who doubts that the Lord is raised from the dead. He manifested a lack of trust. And because of his doubt, the term ' doubting Thomas' was coined to describe all doubters and skeptics and even pessimists. However, it is good to doubt sometimes because one saying have this : " Doubt is the key of knowledge." Those who inquire without hesitation learn best.

What can we benefit from doubting Thomas? At least he was honest that he did not understand what was happening. He was just sincere he was not jack-of-all-trade. Unlike us, we show that we know and yet we are not.

Jesus in today's gospel refers to His friends who were not present, saying: " Blessed are they who have not seen and yet believe," ( v.29). In other words, those who have faith in Him just like us are blessed indeed.

What can we say about faith? how can we define faith? According to the Merriam-Webster Pocket Dictionary, faith is defined as, " complete trust and confidence in some person or thing. For example by allowing an unknown person who is a pilot to fly us for thousand miles over mountains and seas in an airplane, without questioning his educational background or capacity or credibility and that is faith is all about.

Vatican 1 Council had a very complicated definition of faith- It is a supernatural virtue by which we believe not because of the intrinsic truth of things, but because of the authority of God who tells us they were true. Council of Trent said that faith is absolutely necessary for salvation. Without faith, we cannot please God.

Moreover, St. Paul gave a very good definition also about faith in his letter to the Romans: " faith is when we don't have any evidence but we still believe." For example, out of 100 items in every quiz of Algebra, I got only 55, 42, 35, and 28 in all four quizzes but I still believe I can pass the Algebra subject that is faith. It is foolish but it is faith.

This faith must bear fruit. St. Paul said: " The only thing that counts is faith active in love, " ( Gal 5:6). St. James also said: " Faith without work is dead" ( Jas4:17). Always remember, faith is always faith in a person and not in a thing. It is because the person makes faith work and not the thing. Faith and work must go together.

One factor that hinders our faith to develop and grow is because of fear. At present most of the lives of people are dominated by the constant feeling of fear. There is fear of wars, of disasters and calamities, of terrorism, of outbreak of disease, of economic breakdown, and fear of all sorts of social problems, of death, of political chaos, of the unknown and the list goes on and on. And it takes to stand amidst all these uncertainties. Jesus says to us " Don't be afraid." These are words of assurance and comfort  for those who trust in the goodness and love of God, for those who can attest that He is present here and now, He walks with us and is alive.

The words, " Don't be afraid" occur more than 365 times in the Bible and we have 365 times in the Bible, and we have 365 days only in a year. This is good reminder that for every day of the year and more God is with us and He tells us daily not to be afraid. The Lord does not want to help us overcome our fears. It is we who often hold on to our fears. Let go and let God. The fact is that our fears and doubts are oftentimes worse than reality.

Christian faith as believing is our deep and personal knowledge of Jesus Christ  our Lord and God. We can do this through reading our Bible; reflect on it and the teachings of the Catholic Church. Let us not put our Bible in the cabinet and let cockroaches or rats eat it.

Lastly, beyond believing and doing, faith is also entrusting oneself into God's hand. This trusting faith lives and grows through prayer and worship which finds their inspirational source and summit of perfection in the liturgy. So let us not only ask ourselves these questions: What can I know and what should I do but also what may we hope for. 

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Chapisha Maoni