”Skepticism is key to any good ghost story”
The quote chosen to kick off today’s reflection, offered in support of the 2nd Sunday of Easter, comes to us courtesy of Jeff Provine, author of Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.
Since becoming a college town some 120-plus years ago, Norman has gained an adumbral reputation for being a town occupied by a fairly large handful of denizens who, simply put, refuse to depart. Even after death.
Shadowy whispers and macabre organ music allegedly fill the school buildings in the waning hours of the night. Ghostly patients walk the surgical suites of the old infirmary, which was once a quarantine ward for polio victims. Sorority sisters of years gone by still occupy their sororities. Oklahoma City too has a history of poltergeists. Former state leaders and mobsters are said to occupy the halls of the state capital, thus adding to the legend. I’m sure it’s a fascinating read. But as the author points out, the tension wrought by those who doubt, or simply do not believe at all in these stories, are a necessary ingredient in any tale of the supernatural. In today’s Gospel (John 20:19-31), the Apostle Thomas assumes the demands of that role.
“Peace be with you.” These are the first words of the Resurrected Jesus to his holed-up Apostles upon appearing to them. Three times he says this over the course of this relatively short passage, a nod to his gift to us, his desire for us https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Redemption-For-All-and-Peace-Real-Peace.
In a later encounter also captured in this passage, Jesus says to Thomas, who was absent during Jesus’ first appearance and skeptical that it even took place, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas responds “My Lord and my God!”
At my Parish where I attend Daily Mass, a young woman who sits behind me will actually proclaim those very words aloud during the silence of the Preface Acclamation after the Priest holds up the consecrated host and says “Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body, which has been given up for you.” It is her way of saying I believe wholeheartedly that this is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. He is here, present for us, wanting so urgently and eagerly to encounter us in this Sacrament.
There are many who read this Gospel Passage who immediately criticize or second guess Thomas for not believing that Jesus made himself present to the other 10 Apostles that also view the Sacrament of Holy Communion as merely a “symbolic gesture,” that Jesus is not truly present in the host and the precious blood. Far too many of them are poorly catecized or simply “doubtful” Catholics, failing to recognize Jesus in the Host.
Doubt, worry, and fear have no place in the life of a child of God. “Free us from all needless worry and useless anxiety” was once a specifically phrased prayer offered up by the celebrant during Mass. I was sorry when it was removed, although I know that whoever made that decision possesses far more wisdom than I. Perhaps it was removed because these terms are simply redundant. When you are part of God’s Kingdom, becoming his beloved child by way of baptism, all worry is needless, all anxiety useless.
Children of God, those who are peace-filled, know that the Father is performing countless acts that we cannot see, measure, control, or fully understand. What scares you? Death? Sure, death is still going to catch us, there is no denying or escaping that. But by virtue of Jesus’ death and resurrection, that cornerstone event that we celebrated last weekend during the Easter Triduum, it will not hold us. It has no power over us. Death has lost.
”Pray, hope and don’t worry.” These are the words that I quote probably more-so than any others in these Daily Reflections, spoken of course by the great Saint Padre Pio. “Worry is useless,” he would so oftentimes say, “God is merciful.” . . . this we saw in spades yesterday https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Divine-Mercy-Sunday-But-First-a-Riddle. . . . “He will hear your prayer.”
So as we continue our journey to Pentecost Sunday, I offer you a short, simple and powerful prayer to the Holy Spirit to strengthen and fortify us:
“Oh Holy Spirit, consoler of tepid souls and protector of the needy and skeptical. Help the afflicted, strengthen the weak, and support the wavering.” ~ Amen
Patrick44 (author) on April 21, 2020:
Thank you as always for reading Eric.
Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 20, 2020:
I like it. Good message. I just have never been in doubt. I think I have empathy for those who do. I like the lady's acclamation and your closing prayer.