Sunday Homily (Full Text)

Sunday Homily


Gospel                                 John 20:19-31

On the evening of that first day of the week,

when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,

for fear of the Jews,

Jesus came and stood in their midst

and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.

The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.

As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,

“Receive the Holy Spirit.

Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,

and whose sins you retain are retained.”


Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,

was not with them when Jesus came.

So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”

But he said to them,

“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands

and put my finger into the nailmarks

and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”


Now a week later his disciples were again inside

and Thomas was with them.

Jesus came, although the doors were locked,

and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”

Then he said to Thomas, “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.”

Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?

Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”


Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples

that are not written in this book.

But these are written that you may come to believe

that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,

and that through this belief you may have life in his name.




“My Lord and my God.”  The emphasis being on the second. 


How does that unwrap itself in all of our lives?  You and I were not there two thousand years ago, but we happen to be here now.  Jesus is saying to us,  “Are those words really on your lips?  Do you know that you are immersed in the Kingdom of God, and if you truly experience my love in this world — it is not going to end.  But to keep that alive, you and I need to keep saying to ourselves, “My Lord and my God.”


We need to keep saying to one another,  “I love you.  How are you?  Are you feeling OK?

Is there something going on in your life?“  You don’t just say that once but you keep saying it over and over again because we want to keep all of our relationships alive.  We know that we need each other.


On this particular Sunday Jesus asks,  “Are you ready to say,  ‘My Lord and my God.’ ” 


In our faith we do a lot of rituals.  Some of them we understand and some we don’t understand.  Yesterday we had a wedding here and there was the bride who was baptized but not in the Catholic Church, and there was a friend with her who was Catholic.


So the bride said,  “Father, my friend has a question to ask you.”


The friend said,  “I’ve been Catholic all my life and I come to church and I come to Mass. But when it comes to the Gospel reading, my friends take their arms and hands and they do something strange. They come down over their nose, and I can’t figure out if they are scratching their nose or if there is some reason for it.” And she was very sincere.


“Yes, there is a reason why we do this,” I said.  “Do you notice that when you come to church that you are seated for the first two readings?  But when the Gospel, the word of Jesus, is going to be proclaimed everyone stands.  Before we hear those words, and in our hearts we say,  “May I receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ in my mind and in my thoughts.  May I proclaim that Gospel with my voice and my lips.   And may that Gospel of Jesus Christ always remain in my heart.”


So it should be done with reverence.  It tells us something.  If someone walks in and says,  “You people, I don’t know what you’re doing.”  It should be very clear to us that we make that sign of the Cross, and when we do that we are saying,  “My Lord and my God.  I hear these words over and over again, and I need that ritual in my life.”


Another ritual that you and I do all the time:  When it comes time for communion we come up and the communion minister will say, “The body of Christ.  The blood of Christ.”

We say, “Amen.”



Why do we say “Amen.”  Did they think that would be a good place to stick that word in?

But the Amen is really when you and I are saying,  “I know the bread and wine are the body and blood of Jesus Christ.” Why do we keep saying “Amen.”  Because when we say “Amen” what we are saying, “My Lord and my God.  I know exactly what I’m doing here.  This is not an empty ritual.”


Our faith is so rich and invites us over and over again to grasp and to say,  “I know that God is in my life.  And sometimes I’m fearful, and sometimes I’m not sure if God is listening.  But maybe it’s because I’m the one not listening.  Maybe I’m asking for something that is absolutely ridiculous in my life, and it is not going to help.  It is just something I want.”  Rather say,  “God.  What do you want to give me today?  What is it that I need from you?”


The other day I was with a young man who had just attempted suicide.  He has no faith.  In trying to help him to grasp how important his life is, I told him what a difference it would make if he would bring God into his life.  There is something there that he is not understanding.  There is a ritual that he’s missing.  This is the third time he has wanted to leave all of us.


But he is one of us.  You don’t have to know who he is, you don’t have to know where he lives, you don’t have to know anything about him.  He is one of us.  That’s why our faith has to be so alive so it rubs off on others.  That’s why we sign ourselves.  That’s why we hear the same Gospels over and over again. 


And that’s why we say, “Amen,” and receive Eucharist.  Because we never know when some fear is going to come in and we are going to be like Thomas and not sure if God cares if we are dead or alive.  That’s the moment that God will say,  “Come here.  Put your finger in my hand.  Put your hand right here in my side.  I’m God.  I’m here for everyone.”


That’s why God says we should always keep our faith alive because we never know what is going to happen.


Yesterday morning in the middle of the night I was called to the hospital.  A young woman was in Intensive Care.  She and a young friend were out riding their motorcycles up in Iowa and, bingo, a deer came out of the woods and ran right in front of them and they hit head on.


She was flown to Quincy.  He was flown to Iowa City.  They said,  “Father, we think she is probably brain dead.  We don’t know if she is going to make it.”  Here was a beautiful young woman and it was her moment to just say,  “My Lord and my God.  If you’re going to take me home, or if you’re going to leave me here — all I know is that this is what it’s all about.”


We’re living on the edge all the time and that’s good because when we are on the edge we have to stay awake.  We have to embrace all of this, and we cannot separate.

If God put us here, as the first reading said, “to share everything,” when we take time to call to mind our sins what we need to think about is,  “Am I really taking care of my neighbor?  Because if I don’t take care of my neighbor, and my neighbor says, ‘I really don’t care about her,’ then what happens to that person?  And where are we?


But if we come together and we know we are one family and we need to share these rituals, the richness of our faith, then everything starts to come together.  And so may you and I just say, “My Lord and my God.”


Every time I go to visit my Mom and Dad’s graves, and mine is right there, and on the tombstone my parents had inscribed, “My Lord and my God.” 


We are the people of God, and that’s what Thomas was making clear when he said, “My Lord and my God, how could I not know you, and believe in you, and follow you.

Send me wherever you wish.”


*  *  *


Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.


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