Easter Week 2 Homily from Fr Greg: Christian Survival Tactics.
‘Christian survival tactics’ are a bit different to others, but we need to learn them, to maintain ourselves “resurrected with Christ”, and stop going back to that empty tomb, looking among the dead for one who is alive.
Remember, as far as Jesus is concerned, it is not so much the survival of the fittest but the survival of the humblest. We will find the Risen Christ again when we humbly go back to our Churches, plug ourselves into our faith communities, and recharge with grace and forgiveness from the Risen Christ.
The positive influence of our faith community is a means of overcoming the massive influence the world has on us. For we were never meant to live our faith alone, in splendid isolation, as if our spiritual life depended solely on what each one of us did (or didn’t do) in an individual sense.
The Gospel today begins by telling us that: “the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews.” Those who had put Jesus to death wanted to deal with his disciples in the same way. So they locked themselves behind closed doors. Logical! We go into “lock down” when we can’t cope with what is happening around us. Perhaps today our fears are a bit different. We don’t live in places where we are at risk of death because we believe in Christ.
Still, though not physically persecuted, we often find ourselves wide open to ridicule for our beliefs, especially among friends and peers. The easy way out is to try to blend in with the crowd, at work or at Uni, or in our social circles and not make ourselves conspicuous.
Still, there is no joy in going “underground”. That’s not a dignified way of living your Christian vocation as lay people in the world! Your light is meant to shine! Jesus has no need for anonymous Catholics. He wanted to break those first disciples out of their self-imposed isolation. So he walked through those walls and told them: “Peace be with you! All will be well!” Even if we feel a little closed, maybe a bit uncomfortable about openly living our faith, Jesus can fix that! His showing them his hands and his side was his way of saying: “There is no cause for alarm!” It was then that they realised they had nothing to fear and “were filled with joy on seeing the Lord.
Still, not all of them were there that day. Thomas missed out on the experience because he was absent from the community that first Sunday. Maybe he thought no one would notice his absence? And even when the others told him they had seen Jesus, he still refused to believe. Thomas wanted proof, to personally see and feel that Jesus is alive so as to believe. We probably aren’t too far behind him. Our kids are taught at school in science that there are either proven facts or opinions, but we fail to appreciate that there are truths which cannot be proven, but are nevertheless true! Your mother may love you, but you can’t prove it! Still you know it’s true. We don’t need to see in order to believe, Survival Tactic # 1 is to believe in order to see God in action in our lives.
We all need the collective faith of those around us who do believe to bolster our faith in times of doubt and fear when we don’t see the way forward. None of us are so strong, so invincible in our faith that we can’t benefit from the living witness of others in our Parish. When our “doors” are closed and we don’t understand, our most basic survival tactic can and should be to go back to our faith communities and learn from one another to walk in faith. Remember: this isn’t something just for the pious few, but an essential survival tactic for the life of faith of every one of us. So let’s profit from their experience and make a more concerted effort to take an active part in the life of this Parish. And, like with St. Thomas, it will do you, and all of us, a whole world of good.