theunfamiliarname

Homily for Easter 2A

In Uncategorized on May 1, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Imagine I have in my hands a glass.
Containing the beverage of your choice
filled to a point equidistant from the bottom and the top.
What do you see?

People famously see either a vessel half-full, or half-empty,
depending on whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist.

Among the more pessimistic, usually,
is the subgroup of the cynical.

One of these is Thomas, doubting Thomas,
patron Saint of the cynical.
And not just cynical, sceptical, a bit fatalistic,
but traumatised by the death of his leader and Lord.
Grieving, angry, wounded, disoriented.

And in this place of pain,
as he is away from the other disciples –
maybe even in some sort of self-imposed emotional exile – his friends have the audacity to say to Thomas:
“We have seen the Lord”.

How do you think that translates to Thomas’ ears?
As the world around him descends more and more
into madness and chaos,
after betrayal and Cross and tomb,
Thomas isn’t even granted a place
in the collective unravelling of sense, as he sees it,
the delusion he imagines his friends are suffering from:
“We have seen the Lord”.

People see, of course, what they want to see,
and what disciple
whose eyes had seen the events of the last days,
and whose feet had led them running, fearful & guilty away,
what disciple would not want to see life restored,
the world back making sense,
to hear words of peace and forgiveness?

Thomas is not going to play that game.
To hang on to false hope
and the utterly improbable.

The one thing he has as his world falls to pieces
is the rock
of rational, cynical, solid, reasonable doubt.
Not the impulsive Peter’s rock, that disciple’s impromptu,
un-thought-out proclamation of faith
“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
the rock that Christ will build the Church upon,
but intelligent, intransigent unbelief.

Yet the Easter story, that account we heard last week,
is full of the power of God to deal with intransigent, obtrusive, ultimately unhelpful pieces of rock.

The tombstone is rolled away –
the heavy weight of rock and the power of death –
the very rock of the earth shakes,
and in that space hewn from rock,
the tomb where all seemed darkness and done-with,
there the light of a new day reveals
more than simply hope, new possibilities, but new life.

And that,
that, even cynical Thomas is confronted with,
the reality of the Resurrection.

The Resurrection calls us forth
from wherever we feel entombed.
Calls us through and beyond those times of struggle,
of searching, of stubborn “I will not believe unless…”
that time of when we hold our dark,
our cynical stone of self-doubt with God.

We need to travel with that stone sometimes,
but we do not live fully with it in our hands.
We cannot grasp, in any sense,
what God would do with and to us, while we carry it.

Thomas hears of others’ encounter with Jesus.
But it’s not his.  Not yet.  Not until he is called and responds.

We’re called to take seriously others’ experience with Jesus,
but we too yearn to touch ourselves the Risen Christ.
To experience and to know.
We too might enter into that ancient prayer:
“Lord I do believe. Help my unbelief!”

“Blessed are those who have not seen
but have come to believe”.

What is the belief we are called towards,
we who have not seen as Thomas saw?
A belief in that which gives us hope
and the prospect of a life transfigured.

Belief that we need not clutch
at old stony certainties and fatalisms.

Belief that death has been overcome,
and that we need not fear dying, our own or those we love.

Belief that what we hear and see and touch with our hands
in the Sacrament of the Eucharist
and in the sacredness of each human moment
is life… and fellowship with the one who gives life.

Somewhere in us,
in a room which seems to have its doors firmly locked,
we are invited to affirm our faith,
not so much in the words of the Creeds
as we do week by week,
but in our own authentic outpouring
of recognition and worship.

Somewhere there I hope, we are able to make
that central acclamation of John’s gospel
and with Thomas say this Eastertide,
“My Lord and my God!”.    Amen.

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