The Gift of Doubt
A reflection on Holy Trinity Sunday by FAN staff, Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF
This reflection was originally posted in our May 25th newsletter
Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF
Who among us, faithful Christians though we may be, has never had a doubt? When we stand during Sunday Liturgy to proclaim “I believe,” is it a staunch profession of belief without doubt, or is it a statement of belief in spite of doubt? In the passage which concludes the gospel of Matthew, we are offered a reassuring gift. After the emotional turmoil of fear, confusion, grief, joy of Resurrection, the small group of Jesus’ faithful followers go to the mountain as Jesus directed them. “When they saw him, they worshipped, but they doubted.” Rather than reprimand or even question them, Jesus sends them out into the world “to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them” in the name of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Jesus understood human doubt. Didn’t he himself cry out from the agony of the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He embraced Thomas, whose doubt preceded a full-hearted “My Lord and my God!”
If these first disciples, who gave their lives for their witness, had moments of doubt, even as they worshipped, we should not be surprised or feel guilty about our own doubtful moments. When left bereft by personal loss, or overwhelmed by so much suffering and violence in the world despite our best efforts, or by seeming indifference to human and Earth suffering by some religious and political leaders, we may question life after death, or the existence of a caring, loving God. Where are you, God? Do you really care? I thank those first disciples who both worshipped and doubted, and thank Jesus for trusting them.
Those who stand so rigidly on doctrine and rules that they never allow themselves to question or doubt may not be the best witnesses to the good news of Jesus. In “Les Miserables,” the purist Javier, who refused to entertain a doubt about his image of a judgmental, avenging God, ultimately yields to despair and takes his own life, a life built on a false image of God, rather than open himself to a God of compassion and forgiveness.
Today’s feast reminds us that our faith is rooted in mystery-three Persons in one God, God who continually creates us, saves us, and makes us holy. We say “I believe” in this mystery; I rejoice in being a disciple. God, I believe; help my unbelief.
Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF