They Worshiped But They Doubted

I’ve always appreciated Matthew’s resurrection narratives (see Matt 28), which include two powerful accounts of disciples worshiping the Risen Christ. In one such account, they literally embrace his feet in a deeply symbolic act of homage (28:9). In another story (which we heard in last Sunday’s Gospel) Matthew includes this wonderfully realistic statement: “When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted” (28:17).

This may strike us as odd. Worship and doubt are essentially opposites. Worship means you’re “all in.” You’ve decided. You believe. You’re in awe, fascinated, engaged. Worship is a total giving over of yourself. But doubt means you aren’t sure. You’re wavering. You hesitate. You’re afraid of something, or afraid of yourself. Doubt means you’re holding back.

 “They worshiped, but they doubted.”

This is what we do. It's a familiar human rhythm. We worship, but we doubt. We’re all in, and then we’re not. We believe, and then we waver. We’re in awe, then we’re afraid it isn’t real. We’re fascinated, then we wonder why. We’re engaged, then we falter. We start to give ourselves; we hold back.

The disciples were only human. They were simply and genuinely human, even at that moment, on a mountaintop, face to face with another human being who had (impossibly!) risen from the dead. They worshiped him glorious and glorified, but they doubted.

My brothers and sisters, don’t be ashamed in the moments you doubt, or when your worship does not achieve a total gift of yourself. Don’t be disappointed when you waver. Remember these disciples on the mountain. We know that they loved Jesus, and he loved them. In your worship and in your doubt, you love him too. In your moments of being human – high and low moments – moments in liturgy, moments at home, moments at work, moments in your car, moments alone in a quiet church, or at the beach, or lying awake at night in your bed – you worship, you doubt, you love the Risen Christ.

Worship and doubt, this unlikely pair, are as natural for humans as breathing, as living and dying. You are human, and he loves that about you. Haven’t you found that worship creates a relationship that leaves plenty of room for your doubt? So when you can, embrace his feet and do him homage (28:9). And when you can’t, be at peace. He embraces you.

“And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matt 28:20).

Frances Watt. Mixed media painting. Courtesy  Sacred Art Pilgrim .

Frances Watt. Mixed media painting. Courtesy Sacred Art Pilgrim.


  • It’s great to be back with you after my hiatus due to our big move! We’re still busy getting settled, but we’re moved in and happy in our new home.
  • My Advent book is out! You can purchase it at Liturgical Press, Little Rock Scripture Study, or I’m currently working on a book in the same series about finding peace in a stressful world.
  • I’m enjoying my work with Little Rock Scripture Study! Cackie Upchurch, the Director of LRSS, recently interviewed me for Little Rock Connections. The interview is here.
  • Everyone is invited to a concert at my home parish in Milford, CT. The Saint Ann Choir will give an encore performance of their inspiring Pentecost Concert on June 21, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. (501 Naugatuck Ave., Milford). The concert is free. I promise you’ll be glad you came!