14th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B - 2021

1. Sister Aloysius was certain.

a. She was certain she knew how to

i. run St. Nicholas School,

ii. manage her sisters,

iii. control her students.

b. She was certain

i. she knew her faith,

ii. the meaning of her vows

iii. and her place in the Church.

2. And thus it should come as no surprise

a. that when a new priest with suspicious ideas, named Father Flynn,

i. singles out a young Negro boy for special attention

b. she was certain

i. she knew what was going on.

ii. No matter what this priest said,

iii. she knew this type of priest.

c. Sister Aloysius was certain.

3. Sister James, however, was not certain.

a. She saw the same things Sister Aloysius saw.

i. She also was suspicious.

b. But she listened to Father Flynn’s explanations

i. and found them plausible.

c. She shared his desire

i. to be more open and loving to the students.

d. Sister James had doubts.

4. This tension is the driving force behind the play and the movie, Doubt.

5. Those of you who know me

6. know of my love of the play and the movie.

a. I use stories from it

i. in conversation, in homilies and occasionally, even in the confessional.

7. I don’t know if you have seen Doubt.

a. But if you have, then you realize

i. that Doubt is not merely the name of the play

b. it is also what the play leaves you with at its end.

i. Was Sister Aloysius deluding herself because she hated change?

ii. Was Sister James a Polyanna?

iii. Was Father Flynn a pedophile?

1. Talk to ten people and you will have ten responses,

2. all of them different.

3. That is what made Doubt such a great play . . .

4. but, something of a financial dud as a movie.

8. Because when you get right down to it,

a. We want to know for certain that our spouses are faithful,

b. our children are obedient,

c. our politicians and priests are trustworthy

d. our nation, our Church, our world is good.

9. We hate doubts, and hate the feeling that doubt gives us,

a. that fear that the world isn’t what we want to believe it is.

10. That fear can cause us to cling to someone or something

a. who promises to dispel that doubt.

11. It caused Sister James to cling

a. first to Sister Aloysius certainties

b. and later to Father Flynn’s reassurances.

12. It causes us to cling to our leaders,

a. be they political or religious.

13. It causes us to look for explanations and create theories

a. At times credible

i. but nowadays increasingly outlandish and outright delusional,

ii. to justify our attachment to this group, that party or politician

b. and it causes us to do all it, we believe, in the service of the truth.

14. Because when we have the truth,

a. we can be certain.

15. And when we are certain

a. then we know.

16. And when we know,

a. then we are the ones who have control.

17. Any doubts?

a. Just ask Sister Aloysius.

18. Or for that matter the people, that day,

a. Jesus came home to Nazareth.

19. Jesus grew up in Nazareth,

a. on that the Gospels agree.

20. Thus, the people in Nazareth had known Jesus since he was child.

a. And they said so the moment he opened his mouth.

21. He was the Carpenter! the son of Mary!

a. The brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon!

b. His sisters still lived there.

22. . They were certain they knew him - certain they knew all about him.

a. They had no doubts.

23. In this they were not alone.

a. The Gospels are full of people.

i. Pharisees and disciples,

ii. centurions and sinners,

b. all of them certain they knew who Jesus was.

c. All of them following him,

d. rejecting him,

e. opposing him and eventually arresting him

i. precisely because they were all certain

ii. that he was what they thought he was:

1. a savior a revolutionary, a heretic a king.

f. Until that day when, according to Mark,

i. Jesus was crucified, and all their certainties were shattered.

24. That day really began on that day in Nazareth.

25. And it had to happen, because according