2 Easter C-RCL
HE 2A 10:00
Credits: New Daylight (Bible Reading Fellowship)
Jan.Apr.1990, 124-6; Our Church Times 4/22/90 p.3
"Now Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came." (John 20:24). Why do you suppose that was so, that Thomas was not with the others?
We can't be sure why, but we can make a guess: perhaps he had become isolated from the others after the death of Jesus. This guess is supported by the way he mistrusted the testimony of the others about the Resurrection. And he must have become and remained quite obstinate despite the overwhelming enthusiasm of his friends he had been so close to, for so long. It is likely that his grief following the events of Good Friday had developed into a gloomy pride of isolation. After all, Good Friday was the end of the dream, and surely, nothing could replace it.
I know a lot of people like Thomas. Perhaps, like me, you see a lot of Thomas in yourself. He dearly loved Jesus, but it had all been too much.
Standing back and considering things carefully is no sin. It prevents us from falling prey to the whims and fads which often overtake the world and even the Church these days. But such a distancing can lead us into becoming so wrapped up in ourselves that we withdraw almost completely from our Christian brothers and sisters. What may start as a "sorting-out" phase of coping with difficult events, can end up in a pitiful display of self righteous arrogance. That is the position that Thomas was in. It is while we are in this kind of mood that we are most vulnerable to attacks from Satan, from that enemy whose great mission is to divide and isolate one Christian from another.
II. You have surely heard it said many times, that Doubting Thomas could be cast as the patron saint of the 21st century. He wants proof. It is okay to have doubts, to ask questions. God gave us the power to doubt. So He can reach us through those doubts. But notice that the doubts of Thomas were not resolved while he kept to himself, but only when he returned to the fellowship. "Unless I see the nail marks in His hands, and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side I will not believe." Thomas wants proof.
Yes, and look what happens when he gets it! Back in the fellowship of the other apostles, look at Thomas! None of the hemming and hawing of one who says, "1 must be seeing things, and I don't see how this fits into my theology." None of the frame of mind which says, "My mind is made up; don't confuse me with facts." None of that. What we get is the most explicit acclamation of divinity recorded in the Gospels: "My Lord and my God."
Now perhaps we can begin to see why the resurrection of Christ is not just an optional extra in the Christian Faith. We see that it draws out of Thomas - who up to now has been skeptical - draws out of him a cry that would have sounded blasphemous to Jewish ears: "My Lord and my God." This was a totally new form of address. Nobody throughout John's Gospel addresses Jesus in this way. To misquote the famous phrase, this is one giant leap of faith for humankind. But that is just what the author of John's Gospel is getting at. He is showing through Thomas the total significance of the Resurrection for the Christian Faith - namely that the Resurrection of Jesus turns skeptics into believers.
III. How has Easter expanded your horizons? The worst thing we Christians can do in times such as these is to water down the full impact of what the Biblical story tells us. Easter is not about living forever in people's memories. Easter is not about the wondrous joy of new life in spring. Easter is about God's raising of Jesus of Nazareth who was dead and buried, to a new dimension of life on this earth and hereafter. We use the word Resurrection. We are not simply repeating the story of the raising of Lazarus on a larger scale. Easter is not just about Jesus coming back to life and having another go-around. When He said at the Cross, "It is finished," that was an eternal shout that still echoes in time. His earthly life was complete, because by His death He had brought humankind together with God again, by His massive expression of divine love on the Cross. God therefore raised Jesus to a new, transformed, glorified, ascended life as Lord. I believe that St.John is both accurate and original in his rather compressed telling of this awesome tale.
How God explodes the narrow understandings we cling to! Jesus came and uttered those words, "Peace be with you," and breathed on the Apostles His Pentecostal breath, and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit." When He breathes on His friends, that is a clue that we have a creation story on our hands, for in the original creation story in Genesis, God breathed over the face of the waters. After Easter, we are dealing with such explosive and sudden force and power, that we need time to appropriate it all. That can bring out the Thomas in all of us.
On this Second Sunday of Eastertide, open your eyes and see how God is expanding your horizons. God always does such unexpected things. Can you see the horizon as you read the last words of today's Gospel?: "Now Jesus did many other things in the presence of the disciples... These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His Name." Do not settle for narrow, closed-in horizons. Only eternity will do.
Over the centuries since John wrote his Gospel different Christian movements have claimed to have new and higher insights and revelations about God. Inevitably these movements end up straying from orthodox Christian belief, and have become new sects, and many of them are dangerously distant from the true message of Christianity.
Because of the bombardment of information that is spewed out on the airwaves and the Internet we can tune in to the ramblings of many a false prophet, each one with his or her own way to God. We need constantly to test what we hear against Scripture and the tradition and life of the Church. That means staying in touch with the Christian fellowship, with the worshiping community. John says, "These signs were written that you may believe." We need nothing more; and we should accept nothing less.