Benefit of the Doubt?

The Benefit of the Doubt

Deacon Paul Snyder Homily- December 15, 2019

Last week, Fr Bob was mountain climbing and as he was enjoying the fresh mountain air, suddenly he slipped right off a cliff.  As he tumbled down, he grabbed a small branch and shouted.  “Help! Help! Is anybody up there?”

A majestic voice boomed over the mountain saying:  “Bob, this is God.  I can help but you have to trust me.”

“Yes, yes, I trust you!” said Bob.  God replied, “OK, Let go of the branch.”

Fr Bob paused for a moment and said, “Is anybody else up there?”

The moral of that story is that Fr Bob should have given God the benefit of the doubt!  But giving someone the benefit of the doubt can be very hard.  We can see this in today’s Gospel.

John the Baptist was trapped in Herod’s prison awaiting execution and he was afflicted with doubts about Jesus. His one task was to prepare the way of the Lord. If he had gotten that wrong, his ministry and his life was in vain.

Although he feared that he might have been wrong about Jesus- John gave Jesus the benefit of the doubt.  So, he sent his closest disciples to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

Jesus replied, “Tell John what you have seen: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, and the deaf hear.”  Jesus knew that John would remember these words from Isaiah’s prophecy and John’s doubts would disappear.

Jesus could have been angry with John but instead he said, No one born of women had ever been greater than John.   Jesus also gave John the benefit of the doubt.

This is one of Jesus’ most important messages- to Give others the benefit of the doubt. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt means to believe something good about someone, rather than something bad.


We can all think of examples when we made a wrong judgement about someone else. We can avoid this mistake by remembering that- Everyone is struggling with something that you probably know nothing about- So Be Kind!


Don’t be frustrated with yourself if you find this hard. For some (ME), it takes a lot of time and patience. But, when you begin to give others the benefit of the doubt, the difficult moments in your life can become blessings.


Now, I realize offering the benefit of the doubt might feel like an easy way to become someone else’s doormat, but it’s actually a powerful act of faith for 3 reasons:


  1. It’s an act of Humility because we accept that only God can see what’s really happening in a person’s heart.


  1. It’s a reflection of God’s Grace because when we give others the benefit of the doubt, it’s a reflection of the mercy we ourselves have received.


  1. It’s Freeing because judging others is really exhausting. When you stop judging, it frees you from sweating the small stuff.


Remember- “Give people the benefit of the doubt, over and over again, and do the same for yourself. Believe that you’re trying and that they’re trying. See the good in others, so it brings out the best in you.” ― 


This truly is an amazing gift that all of us can share at Christmas!