This morning we celebrated Mass for the Feast of Saint Thomas, the Apostle in the Chapel of Saint John the Baptist at Chartres Cathedral, where I delivered the following homily.
We are warned, on this feast of the doubting Apostle, never to believe that we are "étrangers."
And yet how often I believe just that, when my rudimentary French fails to assure me whether the the main course is hot or cold, or whether the tip is included, or whose cloak is hanging in the museum case...I find it easy to believe that I am indeed a stranger.
Until I come home again, each day, to the Altar...in the high sanctuary of Notre Dame or the bowels of Chartres, or, indeed, in anyplace in the world. Home to this Altar, home to the land of the saints, to the household of God,
Home to the place where Christ invites all the Thomases of the world to touch him and to believe. Home to the Church, where, as brothers and sisters, daughters and sons we are anything but "étrangers."
Just two chapels to the left of the main apse upstairs in this Church, there is an entire bay of windows devoted to the life of Thomas, the Apostle. It tells the story of how, after the encounter in the upper room, he was sent by the Lord to evangelize India, where at a wedding reception he was beaten by the king’s cup bearer, who was then promptly eaten by a lion. Of how Thomas was named royal architect, but spent most of the treasury on building churches and feeding the hungry. Of how the king then stripped him, tortured him and threw him into a white hot Indian furnace, where he died, not as a stranger (not even in India), but as a Saint, a part of that great Communion which reconvenes at every altar, whether in Pittsburgh or Paris, Brighton or Bordeaux. We are never alone, never a stranger in this world as long as we are near to this Altar and to the Christ whose sacrifice we offer upon it today.
Monsignor James P. Moroney