Christianity is not the acceptance of an idea, but an encounter with a Person. Whenever we hear the words of Christ, or receive His sacraments, one question, and one question alone, should confront us. Do I accept Him? Yes, we may harbor doubts, we may harbor apprehension, but the question is still the same, do I accept Him? We live in a time in which Christ has been relegated to a moral philosopher, a charismatic leader, or, worse, a really nice guy. We can dismiss moral philosophers, charismatic leaders, and very nice guys, but can we dismiss the Son of God? St. Thomas the Apostle, whose honor and memory we venerated on July 3rd, after the first Easter boldly proclaimed, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (Jn. 20: 25) Lo and behold, Jesus came through the locked doors of the upper room, looked Thomas dead in the eye and said, “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.” (Jn 20: 27) To which the Apostle replied, “My Lord and my God!” (Jn. 20:28)
There has never been a moral philosopher, a charismatic leader, or a really nice guy, whose life, death, and resurrection elicits the cry, "My Lord and my God." Then again, we do not have the benefit of seeing the Risen Christ in the here and now like St. Thomas. After all, we live some 2,000 years after the fact. In the mid-20th century, the agnostic-turned-Anglican C.S. Lewis wrote a book entitled, “Mere Christianity.” In it, Lewis argued that so extraordinary were the claims Christ made that we are left with only three options: Christ was a liar, Christ was a lunatic, or He really was the Son of God. If Christ were a liar He was a very good one. If He were a lunatic any claim of divinity would be grandiose. Or maybe He really was Who He claimed to be. In my heart and mind, as well as yours, the third position is Gospel truth. The likes of Peter and Paul, and, yes Thomas, would not have risked life and limb for a liar or a lunatic. The Catholic Church is the one Church of Christ because her faith rests on the witness of the Apostles. Peter and Paul would not have died in Rome for anything less than the truth. Thomas, as tradition tells us, would not left Judea to minister in far off India, “to go make disciples of all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” teaching all that Christ had taught him. (Mt. 28: 19-20)
We are left with that perennial question, "Do I accept Him?" If he was a moral philosopher, a charismatic leader, or a really nice guy, then by all means dismiss Him, there is no serious consequence. If Christ is the Son of God, then the difference is eternal. It is worth the time to hear His word and receive His sacraments, and moreover to bring others to a deep, lasting, and abiding communion with Almighty God. Yes, we may have our doubts, we may have our fears, but ultimately our Lord and our God supplies the grace and strength we need to follow Him more closely.
Fr. Daniel O. Kingsley