The Doubting Disciples

Mark 16: 9-15
Acts 4:13-21 / Ps 118

He appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of
heart.
(Mark 16:15)

Man always doubts the Promised word,
God has to take the initiative;
We always need to be assured . . .
Lord, why is it so hard to believe?

In the Gospel of St. Mark, the risen Lord first appeared to Mary Magdalene. When she told the disciples that Jesus had appeared to her they did not believe her. Neither did they believe their two companions who had walked with the Lord on the road to Emmaus, and returned to tell them the good news. Everything that the Lord told His apostles would happen was fulfilled. He told them that He would be handed over to the Jews to be crucified and killed, and it happened. He told them that one of them would betray Him, and Judas did. He prophesied Peter’s denial before the cock crowed, and Peter’s cowardice came like clockwork. He brought Lazarus back to life, so why couldn’t they believe that He Who claimed to be the Resurrection and the Life would be brought back to life by His Father?

Reflection

There was good reason why the disciples doubted their companions who claimed they had seen the risen Lord, and Jesus’ assurance that He would rise again from the dead. Most of them had already undergone a great trauma in their simple uncomplicated lives. When their Master died, they were like sheep scattered without a shepherd, some hiding in their homes, others escaping into the countryside. But at least the turmoil was over. They could now begin to pick up the pieces of their former lives, and go back to their old familiar haunts. Jesus’ coming back from the dead would mean that they could not go back to their comfortable past — it meant the dawning of a new era, a fearful future that they, the chosen ones were going to spearhead. The Holy Spirit had not yet come to inspire and embolden them. That was why they were afraid, and why they would readily doubt rather than believe.

It is human nature to doubt and be skeptical about things in the realm of the unknown. “Let the young ones do it, they are more bold,” we say, or “Let the more senior members handle it — they have more experience.” Why do we doubt? Isn’t faith in our capabilities, and faith in our God enough? If we have true faith then there is no reason to be afraid, no reason to be skeptical or doubtful. There is every reason to say, “Yes, Lord, I do believe!”

Forgive us, Lord, whenever we doubt your love, or our capacity to follow Your Will. Help us to realize that in our mission there is no such thing as “can’t” or “won’t” when we are working for Your kingdom. Grant us the wisdom and humility to accept what we cannot understand, and that we may always put our trust in You. AMEN.

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