Before I get to talking about the thrust of my topic today, I think that I need to provide some of you a little bit of Catholic education, so that it all makes sense. If this is stuff you already know, feel free to skip over it.
A saint, when a Catholic is talking about it, is a person who is in heaven with God. We know that they lived a good life and that they ended up in heaven with the Lord. The process for determining whether or not a person is a saint is a topic for another post. Just remember that a saint is a person in heaven.
Next, in the Catholic Church, we celebrate a saint’s Feast Day. A feast day is a fancy term that is used to talk about the day that we use to celebrate that saint’s life, potentially his or her death, and what makes him or her special or saintly. All of the feast days (and some other days) come together to form…
The Liturgical Calendar! This is the Church’s calendar (besides the one that we all use, called the Gregorian calendar that was invented by Pope Gregory XIII) that tells us what readings to read at mass every day. The Calendar works on a three year cycle (any year is either Year A, B, or C), and over the course of three years, you’ll hear every word of the Gospels and most of the rest of the bible at Mass.
Start here if you already know what I’m talking about!
Today is the Feast Day of St. Thomas, Apostle (better know as Doubting Thomas). He was the guy who was so skeptical of the Resurrection of our Lord that he couldn’t believe until he had stuck his finger in the nail wounds in Jesus’s hands and his hand in Jesus’s side where he had been stabbed with a spear. This was what he needed to believe that Jesus had really conquered death. The passage that tells this story occurs in the Gospel of John, Chapter 20, Verses 24-29. The last verse of this passage is of particular note: “Jesus said to him, ‘Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.'”
The reason that the Gospels were written and, indeed, the reason that the Church itself was founded is based right here in this verse! Jesus Christ established the Church so that the people who had seen and were able to believe because of it might be able to share their faith with those who had not been able to see and touch and feel and have faith for that. Take this for instance: of the 12 Apostles, 11 were killed for being Christian (and Judas committed suicide). Genuinely, this is one of the most powerful reasons that convinces me to be Christian. These men, followers of Jesus of Nazareth, were so convinced of his divinity, they they were ALL willing to die for their cause. They all were martyrs.
In his book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis lays out this case: Jesus could only be one of these things: a lunatic, a liar, or Lord. These are the only three potentially possible options. The first two, however, have serious flaws. First, if Jesus was lunatic, he probably wouldn’t have attracted much of a following. The Apostles would have been more wary to believe (and rightfully so) that he was not in fact God. They would have found him to be crazy and not followed him. Next, if he had been a liar, the Apostles would similarly have been nervous about following him. But this wasn’t the case. The Apostles were all so convinced that Jesus Christ was God incarnate that that all put down their lives for their beliefs and inspired hundreds of others to do the same over the centuries, in times of persecution. This is truly remarkable, and it seems to me that Jesus must have been God or he and his followers wouldn’t have initiated this unending chain that is the Catholic Church today.
Thanks for reading this today, I know it’s a little on the wordier side.
Cum Caritas (It’s Latin for “With Love”)