Easter Saturday 2015

Faith and doubt are two sides of the same coin. I’m a bit suspicious of those who claim never to have had any doubts, and I’m not entirely convinced by those who claim never to have had any twinges of faith, either. Even Bertrand Russell had a moment of believing that the ontological argument for the existence of God was valid, though tossing his tobacco tin into the air seems to have resulted in a change of mind soon after. The addition to Mark’s gospel that we read today, Mark 16.9–15, twice mentions the disbelief of the disciples when faced with the testimony of Mary Magdalene and Cleopas and his companion. What is going on?

One thing that is certainly going on is a very natural, human reaction to the death of Jesus on the Cross. The dead don’t rise again, and whatever Jesus may have said about it during his public ministry didn’t make sense then and was largely forgotten after the Crucifixion. It is only with the Resurrection that his words fall into place. Another thing that is going on is the transformation wrought by the Resurrection in Jesus’ body. The Risen Christ is familiar yet different. If we look at the other Resurrection stories, the  disciples are variously described as ‘dumbfounded’, ‘disbelieving’, ‘hesitating’. Whether Jesus stands on the shore or in the midst of them while they are at table, there is a strangeness about him now; the disciples hold back a little, unable to take in what has happened. Only Mary Magdalene and Peter seem to be able to grasp the situation all at once — and how different their reactions are, with Mary wanting to cling to him, and Peter, in his confusion, wanting to jump into the water to get away from him!

Tomorrow Thomas will speak for all of us when he demands to place his hands in Christ’s wounds before he will believe, but today we are faced with making a choice based on faith — not our faith only, but the faith of the early Church. Once the choice is made, we are commissioned to go out and proclaim the Good News. How we do so will depend on our individual circumstances, but each one of us is, in some sense, a missionary, charged with building up the faith of others. That doesn’t mean ignoring doubts or questions, but it does mean allowing the Risen Christ to change us utterly.

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4 thoughts on “Easter Saturday 2015”

  1. I can remember a wise Priest saying to me that if he met someone who was certain of all, than he’d avoid him like the plague. I believe that we all have moments of doubt, I did, only mine lasted for 25 years. I thank God for his revelation to me on that day, 28th July 2008, that he was there, all that I had to do, was to let him in.

    This story is connected to my dealing with the consequences of the violent death of someone overseas, and having real doubt and fear of my ability to cope with the families grief and to remain dispassionate and professional for their sake (as well as my own sanity). But God intervened and everything changed – for ever for me.

    But, being human, I can still, on occasion, feel that emptiness and wonder if it’s all real? Am I deluding myself? Is it all a myth? Those moments are few and far between, but they remain – I consider them to be Satan’s plot to deflect me from God’s grace, which I know to be real. I see it so often in other people’s lives, let alone my own. I see his blessings, and when I meet people whose depth of faith puts me to shame, I remember that we are all human, all fallible, all sinners, but the Redeemer has saved us from ourselves on that one, unselfish act of Glory on the Cross and with his resurrection he has defeated evil for all time.

    That gives me the strength to pray and to go on again, refreshed and renewed. The great Hope is born, resurrected and with us all of the time – we just need to meet him sometimes as he reveals himself personally or through those that we meet all of the time. Thanks be to God.

  2. Always a comfort to hear people with faith speak about doubt. I do find it hard to see how one can exist without the other. Rather like twin spirals in DNA. If there is no doubt you have certainty which is not the same as faith. If you have no faith (if that is really possible!) then there is certainty and no doubt. I do find that doubt can conflict with my faith and unsettle me. I might long for the security of total certainty but deep down know that the quest for God and a better relationship with Him requires a leap of faith – with all that it entails. I will wrestle with my doubts, happier knowing I am not the only one and that there is nothing wrong with having them in the first place…

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