Sunday, April 8, 2018

Caution Tape: Thomas, Apostle (2018-04-08, 2nd Sunday Easter)

2nd SUNDAY of Easter  8 April 2018

•• Acts 4:32-35  •• Psalm 118  •• 1 John 5:1-6 •• John 20:19-31 ••

Title:  Caution Tape+Plus: Thomas

[__01__]   This Sunday, the 2nd Sunday of Easter, is also commemorated [“canonized”] by Pope John Paul II as the Sunday of Divine Mercy. We count today as the 8th day of Easter – or the octave day – for Easter Sunday was the first day.
            Since the first day, Jesus’ resurrection was being sought out by his disciples.   By now – by the time of today’s  Gospel episode [John 20], some have seen the Lord’s Resurrection, some are still seeking. And, Thomas’ search engine was spinning.

[__02__] DISCIPLINE.  I’d like to reflect on the Thomas and his DISCIPLINE. Traditionally, we associate Thomas with another D-word = DOUBT.
          As a “doubter”, however, Thomas was not exceptional.  All of the apostles doubted – until they saw Jesus.    
          Cardinal John Henry Newman describes Thomas the Apostle as “over-cautious.” [1] (J.H. Newman, Parochial & Plain Sermons, Bk.II. Serm. 2, “Faith &  Sight”, San Francisco: Ignatius, Press, 1997, p. 238)  Caution tape was everywhere for Thomas, so to say .. he would have barricade tape, the 2-tone tape -- colored tape (you know … the two-color tone pattern of alternating yellow-black to indicate a possible danger or hazard, often bilingual: CAUTION/CUIDADO)
[__03__]    There 3 levels of discipline that Thomas [Thomas = T] experiences. I suggest we all experience them.
          There is the discipline of [►CAUTION];   the discipline of  [►COMPREHENSION]; the discipline of [►CONSCIENCE]
[__04__]    1st.  Discipline of [►CAUTION] Caution tape is good. Caution tape help us to avoid avoid trouble.
          Even the Villanova University, recent men’s college basketball national champions, was renowned not only for potent offense but also for discipline -- taping down – restricting - their opponents with preventive defense and won all their tournament games by double-digit margins. Their basketball-court barrier was well-fortified.
          And, [►CAUTION] tape may also help us to play defense and avoid embarrassment.
          For example, as discipline and “defense”, do I hold out the CAUTION TAPE, expecting others to bend to my will?   Am I discouraged not because of a setback but because of the surprise ending?
          Jesus, by his life, death and resurrection – is offering us as place in the kingdom, but his is not … shall we say … a convenience store.
          He is asking us to take up our cross each day and store up treasure in heaven.
          This might mean that we move beyond the caution tape barrier.
          Yes, [T] learned -- and we all learn – that to see is to believe. But, to believe is also to see.
          When I believe in – or strive to believe in – the potential goodness of another person or in my own potential – I can see more clearly, not just more cautiously.
          [►CAUTION] tape is good but just one phase/step on the journey.

[05] 2nd. Discipline of [►COMPREHENSION]
          Thomas [T] is invited by the other disciples to comprehend, to understand.
          Sometimes, giving up our in [►CAUTIOUS] ways, we can [►COMPREHEND] more, such as when I dare to ask a question in a confusing or troubling situation.
          Can we not dare to ask a question before classmates or co-workers even though this will reveal a state of confusion…?
          Humility is a discipline.
          Can I do not dare to ask a question about something that upsets me or makes me anxious, even if I do not like the answer …?
          It takes discipline to be humble and ask a question. Admitting that you or I do not have all the answers is a discipline.
          [T]’s [►CAUTION] is an obstacle to [►COMPREHENSION].
          What happened?
          [T] was told of the Resurrection and he puts up the caution tape and/or Jersey barrier (yes, the highway divider was invented here. +1 for us).   (Thomas’ guard goes up immediately). He does not ask for more information – “tell me more” – but announces his need for independent counsel = caution tape.
          But, isn’t it necessary in our loving relationships with others – as spouses, as parents – or as children listening to our parents – that we cannot necessarily evaluate or store everything immediately on our own?
          Moreover, we demonstrate our love of another by accepting his or her word, when we do not ask too many questions, when we comprehend.
          In the letter of James, we are reminded to be : “quick to hear, slow to speak” (James 1:19).
          In this regard, it is not only true that …”to know you is to love you” but also ..
·        “to trust you is to love you”
·        “to listen to you is to love you”
·        “to [►COMPREHEND] you – to get you – is to love you.”
·        To forgive you is to love you.
          Thomas is called to move from the discipline of [►CAUTION] to  the discipline of [►COMPREHENSION] and finally to the discipline of [►CONSCIENCE].

[__06__]     3rd. [►CONSCIENCE]
What is the discipline of [►CONSCIENCE]?
            Through the writings of Vatican II and of Cardinal Newman, I suggest and summarize [►CONSCIENCE] is not simply a more or thicker CAUTION TAPE … rather [►CONSCIENCE] is CHRIST HIMSELF.   [►CONSCIENCE] is not a mandate; [►CONSCIENCE] is a messenger.
          Yes, we are called to trust and obey our consciences, but this is because our consciences connect us to God’s Holy Spirit which reminds us to pray, to talk with God each day.  This is our discipline, our practice, our habit.
          Through our conscience, we can know what is good/evil, right/wrong.  It is a message from God. And, it is a message that we experience – and examine – in our relationships with others.
          We need the laboratory/milieu  (or playground) of our own experience to know what is right and true. In this regard, we do not simply examine our actions (results) but we also examine our consciences (motives, reasons).

[__07__]     While I have, at times, acted or thought I had acted the best I could under certain circumstances, I have realized later that maybe I was too cautious, maybe I was uncharitable, maybe I was dishonest.

[__08__]      Conscience, therefore, is something we examine not because it is faulty or slow but because it represents our seeking – and our seeing – of the Risen Lord.
          Conscience represents our effort to discover that Jesus is each day trying to enter the sometimes locked door of my own heart or the upper room of my mind.
          And, to teach me to move beyond a cautious route to a truly safe journey with Him, and to remember to give thanks for those who have helped me to believe – my parents, my family, my teachers over the years, parish priests and religious sisters and brothers, and also for you – people whom I have encountered praying with me in church – tonight here I give thanks for you – to my own parish family, for your presence, the discipline of your own prayers,  your witness to me, to all of us as priests, teaching us by your own carrying of the cross and consideration of conscience, that “blessed are those [blessed are you] who have not seen and have believed.” (John 20:29)   [__fin__] 

[1] J.H. Newman, Parochial & Plain Sermons, Bk.II. Serm. 2, “Faith &  Sight”, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997, p. 238

No comments:

Post a Comment