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For Your Weekend: Lord, I Have Doubts

Jodi Dauses
December 10, 2022

Dig Deeper into Sunday’s Gospel: Read Matthew 11:2–11

Do you have doubts about who Jesus really is? You aren’t alone. The very people who rubbed shoulders with Jesus did, too. 

But first, as we say in the television news business, the backstory. In this week’s gospel passage from Matthew, John the Baptist is in prison after denouncing King Herod for his promiscuous affair with his brother's wife. Herod's decision to dismiss his own wife and steal his sister-in-law instead caused a public scandal, followed by a bold and public reprimand from John. This ticked off the king, who threw John in jail. (Yep, Netflix drama is nothing like Bible drama!) 

Perhaps, during his cruel imprisonment, John began to have difficulties believing the truth of who Jesus was, whom he had earlier pointed out as the "Lamb of God” (John 1:29). But more likely, as Father John Bartunek points out in his commentary on this gospel passage, “John’s disciples still doubted what John was telling them of Jesus and were reluctant to leave John in order to follow Christ. So John sends them to Christ himself, in order to resolve all doubts.”[1] He seeks out Jesus. John sends his disciples to ask, "Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?" (Matthew 11:3).

The Savior's response does not disappoint, His clarity putting any modern day presidential press secretary's response at the podium during a press junket to shame. Jesus doesn't just say, "Oh yes, I am the Savior," the kind of empty claim typical of any arrogant public figure pretending to be something he is not. Instead, He clearly lists His irrefutable miracles and then applies the Messianic prophecies to them. His credentials are beyond impressive. Jesus reminds John's disciples it was He who gave sight to the blind, cleansed the lepers, caused the deaf to hear, and raised the dead to life. Because of Me, Jesus says, “The poor have the good news proclaimed to them” (Matthew 11:5). “Christ himself claims to be nothing less than the very Son of God, the Savior, the Messiah,” notes Father Bartunek.[2]  

After Jesus defends who He is, He then begins to speak to the crowds about His “messenger,” John. His words seem curious to us, yet rich in meaning to those in attendance, well-versed in Old Testament text. He begins by praising John, comparing his steadfast faith to a reed not shaken by the wind, because “John is not swayed by earthly comforts.”[3] John is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy, the very words Jesus uses to describe him echoing Malachi 3:1: 

Now I am sending my messenger—
he will prepare the way before me;
And the lord whom you seek will come suddenly to his temple;
The messenger of the covenant whom you desire—
see, he is coming!

But Jesus concludes His address to the crowd with a paradoxical reverse: “John is the greatest of prophets, but the humblest of Jesus's followers is greater than John.”[4]

Are you unsure about who Jesus really is? If so, have you ever taken your doubts to God directly in prayer? It can feel scary to voice what our hearts are struggling to believe. What if there are no real answers to our spiritual questions?  

I remember a time in my mid-twenties when I began to wrestle with what I had been taught and wholeheartedly believed since I was a child about the Christian faith. The more I read and studied about the origins of Christianity, the more confused I became. What church was I to follow, and how was God asking me to worship Him? There were so many denominations and churches out there, which was most right? The more questions I asked, the more I felt like I was turning in circles. Out of pure frustration and at the end of my rope, I remember hitting my knees in prayer one day, confiding to God that I was weary from all my searching. I was ready to give up. God met me there. He whispered words of encouragement to my heart, giving me just enough hope to keep seeking spiritual answers. In Jeremiah 29:13, God tells us, “You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart.” My wrestling would ultimately lead me to a conversion to the Catholic Church, providing clear answers to all of my confusing questions about the Christian faith.  

Like John’s disciples, when we have doubts about faith, Jesus meets us where we are. He reminds us that He is who He says He is. He meets us in friendship. Jesus is inviting us to bring our doubts directly to Him. 

"Friends accept us as we are, but encourage us to change for the better,” says Father John Bartunek.  “He is still a friend like that to each one of us: we are blinded by ignorance and selfishness, and he offers us light in the teachings of his Church; we are poor in virtue and generosity, and he fills us with the gifts of the Holy Spirit; we are lame, unable to pray as we ought, to bear witness as we ought, to love as we ought, and he heals us and strengthens us by feeding us with bread from heaven, nourishing us with his very self in the Eucharist. He is always encouraging us to grow, because he loves us too much to leave us the way we are.”[5]

Food for thought or journaling…

Do I feel comfortable bringing my spiritual doubts to the Lord? If so, what is one step I can take today to share those concerns directly with God or with someone in the Catholic faith whom I trust?

Dear Jesus, thank You for reminding me that even those who witnessed Your miracles and life in person still sometimes doubted You! They came directly to You to find answers to their questions; help me to do the same. Meet me in my doubt and draw me close to Your heart. Help me be bold like John the Baptist and stand up for what is right. Encourage me to grow, and thank You for loving me so much that You are not content to leave me as I am. Amen. 

[1] John Bartunek, The Better Part: The Gospel of Matthew (Manchester, NY: Sophia Institute Press, 2020), 157.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Commentary on Matthew 11:7, Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2010), 9.
[4] John Bartunek, The Better Part: The Gospel of Matthew (Manchester, NY: Sophia Institute Press, 2020), 157.
[5] Ibid, 158.


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