“We Love You, Thomas”
A Homily by C. Elizabeth (Betsy) Rowe-Manning
Parish Life Director, St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Albany, New York
Second Sunday of Easter — April 12, 2015
‘Tis the season of rich symbols – water, oil, fire and light, the coming of Spring, (FINALLY) when we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection and our own. ‘Tis the season of sacraments of initiation: baptism, confirmation, Eucharist. Check out the bulletin – the pictures are a chronicle of the great vigil — Jessica and Meg’s  welcome into the church, this community’s re-commitment to baptismal promises.
‘Tis the season of mystagogy – when we look back to our experience of the Sacred Triduum and ask: What exactly happened at the liturgy? How were we affected by these rites? What are the implications of these liturgical experiences for our everyday life? Jessica, Meg and all of us will grapple with these questions until Pentecost and beyond,
I think it is a courageous act to profess or to renew promises of faith today. Many Catholics are rightfully dismayed and discouraged by the arguments over matters as diverse as liturgy, the pope, politics and morality. These disagreements may, at times, seem petty but, more often, are significant issues, painful and isolating.
There is nothing new or unique about challenging the establishment. The apostle Thomas did just that. He did not witness the risen Lord and so hedged his bets on the reality of the resurrection despite the reports of the other apostles. Why would they lie to him in his grief? Still, he said, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
Thomas persisted in his unbelief, unconvinced by the other apostles, until a week later when Jesus’ disciples “were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them…”
How did the other disciples treat Thomas during that week? They did not vilify or cast him out for doubting, marginalize him or call him a “cafeteria apostle”. They just assumed he would stay with them, even in the midst of his doubt.
We all need and rely the faithfulness of God’s love to support us when we are painfully uncertain, but the support of other believers is essential, not “even” when we disagree, but especially when we disagree Thomas did not believe initially and only believed when he saw Jesus in the risen flesh. “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Essential in all of this, though, and always overlooked, is that in the midst of Thomas’ profound disagreement with the other disciples regarding Jesus’ resurrection, he remained within the fold of the sisters and brothers.  Perhaps we have mistakenly entitled this story “The Doubting Thomas” when the more appropriate title should be “The Faithful Community.”
Today Karen and Adam, Danielle and Brian present their children Fiona Sussman and Cullen William for baptism. We do promise to support them AND Jessica and Meg as together we walk in faith to the future.
Allow me to use the words of Walter Burghardt, a respected theologian.  His words express my thoughts, exactly!
Jessica, Meg, Fiona, and Cullen before we welcome you through symbol and ritual into this paradoxical people, this community of contradictions, let me make an uncommonly honest confession. In the course of a half century (and more) I have seen more Catholic corruption than most Catholics read of. I have tasted it. I have been reasonably corrupt myself. And yet I joy in this Church, this living, throbbing, sinning people of God: I love it with a crucifying passion. Why? For all the Catholic hate, I experience here a community of love. For all the institutional idiocy, I find here tradition of reason. For all the individual repression, I breathe here an air of freedom. For all the fear of sex, I discover here the redemption of my body. In an age so inhuman, I touch here tears of compassion. In a world so grim and humorless, I share here rich joy and earthly laughter. In the midst of death, I hear here an incomparable stress on life. For all the absence of God, I sense here the presence of Christ …. I pray, Jessica, Meg, Skylar, Fiona and Cullen, that your lives within this community, your experience of a strange God and a still stranger people, will rival mine.
Come now Fiona and Cullen and take your first steps into a kingdom you can only enter through hardship and tribulation, into a community that will not wipe away your every tear but does promise that we will touch each tear with our love. 
1. Jessica Burns celebrated her baptism, confirmation and first eucharist at this year’s Easter Vigil. Meg Bassinson came into full communion with the Catholic church.
2. Martens, John W. “One Heart and Soul” in AMERICA, Vol 212, No. 12, April 6, 2015
3. Paraphrased from a baptismal homily which Fr. Walter J. Burghardt delivered at St. Paul’s Chapel, Columbia University, 1973, entitled “A Strange God, a Strange People”
4. Burghardt, Walter J. Tell the Next Generation: Homilies and Near Homilies (NY: Paulist Press, 1980)