Trust, Surrender, Believe, Receive

Homily for the Second Sunday of Easter Year B

by Fr. Tommy Lane

Did you ever have a bad weekend? Just think what kind of weekend the apostles had on that first Easter weekend. They must have been suffering from a severe dose of depression since Good Friday. Jesus was dead. The crowd that welcomed Jesus with palms as he entered Jerusalem turned against him on Good Friday morning calling for the release of Barabbas and the death of Jesus. The apostles, now afraid of the crowd, had shut themselves in for their own protection as we heard in the Gospel (John 20:19). There were ten of them gathered in this state; Judas was no more and Thomas was temporarily absent. Jesus came with his healing, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19) And how much peace they must have felt within now! As well as shock and doubts. But this meeting with the risen Jesus certainly brought peace to their troubled minds and hearts. That was Easter Sunday evening, the crisis was over, but what a long three days it had been since Friday morning.

Thomas comes back then and they tell him Jesus is alive, they have seen him. Jesus came in even though the doors were all locked. Thomas thinks this is adding insult to injury. You can imagine what he would have said to them. “You saw his body when it was taken down from the cross. You know he was not breathing. You know there was no blood left in his body, you know his heart had been pierced with the soldier’s lance. You are all raving. It’s getting to you. Get a grip on yourselves!” We heard in our Gospel that Thomas demanded proof, “Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.” (John 20:25)

What has happened now? Now there is division among the apostles. Ten know Jesus is alive. The eleventh, Thomas, is stubborn and refuses to believe. Thomas does not have faith yet and he is relying on reason alone but when Thomas will see Jesus in a week he will believe and faith and reason will be perfectly aligned in Thomas. The division among the apostles is like the division in any family between those who have faith and reason in perfect harmony and those whose faith and reason are out of sync. Those with faith and reason in sync try to help the others to come to greater faith in Jesus. And they get a negative response from a modern day Thomas who might say something like, “If you force me I won’t go to Mass.” And Thomas, ancient or contemporary, remains in his sad state. If Thomas had been sensitive enough he would surely have noticed that the ten have great peace now, they are not the same as when when he left earlier. But Thomas, ancient and modern, considers himself a big, strong, macho man. He has no time for what he thinks is silly sissy stuff. He wants a scientific proof for God and fails to realize that there does not have to be any conflict between faith and science, or between faith and reason. Thomas has yet to learn that faith and reason/logic/science are meant to be in harmony. The following Sunday Jesus came again even though the doors were closed. Again Jesus wished them peace and provided Thomas with the proof that his reason and logic and desire for a scientific answer needed, “Put your finger here: look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.” (John 20:27) Thomas replied, “My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28) Now faith and reason are perfectly aligned in Thomas, faith and science are in synchronization and Thomas has seen Jesus.

Relying only on reason and logic and science alone had closed Thomas’ mind to Jesus’ resurrection. His independence, his pride, his wish to be master of his own life, wanting control of his own destiny instead of allowing faith to be in harmony with reason meant that he wasted a week. He shut Jesus out of his life for one week. All it takes to meet Jesus is to allow our reason/logic to work together with our faith. So we make that act of faith in God. Surrender into the hands of a loving God. You have nothing to lose but everything to gain. A beautiful chant about trust in God goes like this, “Trust, surrender, believe, receive.” The last word is “receive.” If you trust, surrender and believe, you will receive. When Thomas saw the risen Jesus on the Sunday after Easter Sunday, he trusted, surrendered and believed. Then he received Jesus. It is the same with each of us. Trust in Jesus, surrender, believe, and you will receive a joy that you will not get from anything or anybody else. Remember what I have said to you previously, if you are not happy it is because you have gone away from God. Thomas had wasted a week. We do not want to not waste a lifetime. Think of what I said last Sunday; God has adopted you as his son or daughter and our second reading today began, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ has been begotten by God.” (1 John 5:1) It is most wonderful privilege. Thomas had wasted a week. We do not want to waste a lifetime. If you haven’t yet met the risen Jesus, roll away the stone and meet Jesus. Allow faith to work together in harmony with your reason and logic. Trust, surrender, believe, receive.

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More related material on this site:

Read an excerpt from Guidelines for Mystical Prayer Ruth Burrows The proud cannot bring themselves to hold out empty hands to God
My commentary on the Parable of the Prodigal Son, especially the quotations from contemporary writers may be of interest to you.
My final talk in the Life in the Spirit Seminars on Transformation

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