August 21, 2009 – Doubt is OK

“Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day!”  I am so glad that a few weeks back I predicted that we would see blazing hot temperatures when school started, because my predictions are rarely right.  A little reverse psychology on the ol’ webmaster’s part!

The rest of the chorus from the old show tune that I started the blog with is of course “I’ve got a wonderful feeling, everything’s going my way!”  It would be great if we could get up every morning with this attitude, but in the real world, it doesn’t always work that way.  More often than not doubts creep into the picture – what will I have to deal with at work today? What will the report from the doctor say?  Is my healthcare plan in danger?  And certainly, there are those times when we doubt God – why can’t He make the situation better?  Why can’t He put an end to war and violence?  Is He listening at all?  I’m sure there isn’t one person, Christian or not, who hasn’t struggled with doubt.

I am tackling this topic because this Sunday’s gospel finds many of Jesus’ followers struggling with doubt.  In last Sunday’s gospel Jesus proclaimed that “I am the living bread that came down from heaven … and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”  Many of Jesus’ disciples could not grasp this concept, and ended up returning to their former way of life.  They took the “easy” way out – they ignored their doubts and ran away from them.

When I was younger I had similar reactions to situations that caused doubt to enter my mind.  But in my 39 plus years here on earth I think I have learned a least a few things, and one thing I have come to know and to accept is that doubt does not have to be a bad thing.  In fact, it can be a good thing if we embrace it and do something constructive with it.  Doubt should cause us to ask questions and to seek answers to those questions, even though we may not always find the answers on our own terms and the answers may not be the ones we are looking for.  As Christians it is not wrong for us to have doubts –  what is expected of us is to trust in the Lord and to take our doubts to Him, and to share with others the ups and downs of our faith life. 

In a few weeks I will once again be teaching our 7th/8th grade PSR students, and one of the first things I will tell them is that one of the biggest challenges they will face as Christians is to continue to trust in the Lord even when they have doubts.  But they will find that if they stick with Him, there is no other better deal around.  In the gospel, when Jesus questioned the remaining 12 apostles as to whether they would leave Him also, Peter responded “Master, to whom shall we go?”  For us to say “Yes” to Jesus is not easy.  We feel we may not be able to justify our decision. 

Our Parish Mission which will take place in about 5 weeks offers us a unique opportunity to seek answers to our questions.  Coming together as a community of faith for 5 consecutive nights in prayer and in listening to the preaching of God’s word will provide us an opportunity to focus on our faith in a way which we may not have ever had the opportunity to do otherwise.  And when we do gather, we can take solace in the fact that we are gathered with fellow Christians who have experienced the same triumphs, joys, doubts and fears as us.  Please join us for this great event and invite others to experience this wonderful opportunity!

Speaking of doubts, I’m sure the Cubs fans are experiencing a few right now, although after 101 straight years without a championship, the doubt of what would happen should pretty well be erased.  The question now isn’t whether the Cardinals will make the playoffs, but how far they will go in the playoffs.  Can’t wait until October!

Finally, an “almost” dramatic church moment – earlier this afternoon I stopped at church to put out the sign-up sheets for folks to put their names to fill roles for the Mission.  As I was taping them on the radiator, all of the sudden this huge burst of light appeared over me.  Was someone turning the lights on?  Could this be … well … a supernatural moment?  Alas, I looked up and it was just the sun coming from behind the clouds.  Guess I never realized how much the sun can penetrate through the stained glass.  Oh well, keep daring to dream!  

Until next week, Peace.

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