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contemporary reflections on the sunday readings

Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart

​​​From 1986-July 2005, my scripture reflections appeared each Sunday in Living Faith, a quarterly publication with a subscription base of over half a million readers. In addition, thousands of others read my reflections in Catholic and Protestant church bulletins from Houston, USA, to Mooi River, South Africa; they were used by homilists, chaplains, and "ordinary people" in such settings as churches, hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, university campuses and family living rooms. Commenting on my work, Editor Mark Neilsen stated, "No writer of Living Faith has been more prolific, more creative and more original than you have been over the years. It has been a great run, a fantastic effort...."

In 2005, in response to letters from readers across the globe who missed my work in Living Faith, I launched Sunday BibleTalk , an online bible service which features contemporary reflections on every Sunday's Gospel reading.

Subscriptions are $30.00 per year. You can subscribe via PayPal (see below)  or else send checks/ money orders to Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, 565 West Quincy Apt 911, Chicago, IL 60661, USA. Thank you.

You may reproduce my work in parish bulletins and newsletters provided 1) you reproduce my words accurately and exactly, without any form of modification 2) you give me credit, listing my full name (Elizabeth-Anne Stewart) and my website (


Sunday, April 8th, 2018
Link to Readings
Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood in their midst, saying, "Peace be with you."
Then to Thomas he said, "Put your finger here and see my hands; put your hand into my side and do not doubt but believe."
Thomas answered, "My Lord and my God!"
Jesus said, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are they who have not seen and have believed."
JN 20:19-31

When we step outside our Christian faith community, it is amazing how secular western society has become -- or, at least, I find it so. There are those with nominal faith who observe Christmas and Easter and possibly have their children baptized; those who have left the faith; and those who, through no fault of their own, never had any faith to begin with. Then there are churchgoers like ourselves (here I'm assuming that SBT readers are churchgoers -- my apologies if this is not the case!) who have stayed mostly faithful to the teachings and the rituals, but who may or may not be true believers. What do I mean by this?

The fact that we occupy a pew on Sundays, keep the Commandments, participate in parish life, raise our children in the faith, belong to a religious community, happen to be ordained or show other outward signs of being Christian doesn't necessarily mean that we are! Our being "religiously observant" might obscure the reality that we are culturally Christian but not spirituallyso. Some of us may have inherited our faith from our parents; others may have acquired it through schooling or even by osmosis because of the good company we have kept -- but have we gone beyond that? Has our faith progressed beyond what we've been taught -- beyond memorized catechism answers and snippets of scripture and theology? Do we have an adult faith that is based not on others' testimony but on our own openness to the transforming Word of God? Have we allowed ourselves to be seized by the love of Christ or do we keep him at bay for fear of what he might ask of us?

Many years ago, I attended a lecture by a lay theologian on the subject of faith. He was well-known in the Academy and held a prominent position at a Catholic university. At first, the presentation held my interest; then, he shared a personal story that unintentionally undermined everything he had previously said: with great seriousness, he described how he recently had difficulty selling his house, so he placed an extra $50.00 in the collection basket and the house miraculously sold. In his mind, the increased donation = positive outcome. That was faith.
Or was it? 

For me, it was a distortion of the God-human relationship. Faith is not about making bargains with God or offering bribes, sacrifices, prolonged fasts or even wearing a hair shirt (actually, this practice probably disappeared with the Medieval era). Rather, faith is the belief that all things are possible through Christ and in Christ and with Christ; it is the belief that we can be like him if we let go of all that is not him. Ultimately, it is the conviction that we have the power to transform the world and ourselves, through his grace.