theunfamiliarname

Easter 2A

In Uncategorized on May 2, 2014 at 10:41 pm

These things did Thomas count as real:
the warmth of blood, the chill of steel,
the grain of wood, the heft of stone,
the last frail twitch of flesh and bone.

The vision of his skeptic mind
was keen enough to make him blind
to any unexpected act
too large for his small world of fact.

His reasoned certainties denied
that one could live when one had died,
until his fingers read like Braille
the markings of the spear and nail.

May we, O God, by grace believe
And thus the risen Christ receive,
whose raw, imprinted palms reach out –
and beckoned Thomas from his doubt.

Words by US poet and Professor Thomas Troeger.

 

His namesake – Thomas, Doubting Thomas,

is with us every Low Sunday.

He claims a space for us and those moments

when we wonder if last Sunday really happened.

When it seems just too hard to believe,

to set aside the perverse, reliable, comfort of hurt

or sheer rock solid refusal

to trust what someone else is saying.

Thomas missed the boat last week,

absent when the Risen Lord appeared that evening,

suddenly there in the midst of gathered, frightened disciples,

themselves apparently unconvinced

by Mary Magdalene’s testimony and Easter morning encounter.

Thomas missed that moment, and wasn’t going to have

a bar of this belief in something he could not touch.

Not even willing to engage in any sort of meaning

beyond the tactile, flesh and blood of reality.

Perhaps a bit like the slightly joyless – it seemed to me –

woman I heard interviewed on the radio this week,

who writes books for children

debunking fairytales from a scientific perspective.

Now it’s a week later, for Thomas and for us,

the first day of the week,

and now also the mystical eighth day,

the Lord’s Day, the day of new creation, new life.

Thomas is there this time when Jesus stands in the disciples’ midst. And Jesus takes him at his word.

Touch, he says. See. Reach out.

Do not doubt but believe.

And it turns out Thomas doesn’t need to touch.

Not in a literal sense.

He needs to know.

To know for himself.

To let go of the narrative he’s drawn over Jesus’ last days:

You might remember that he says to the disciples

that in going to Lazarus at Bethany, they will die with him.

 

And now Thomas needs to write a new chapter

to the story of death and darkness,

the fate he was so sure was theirs.

The world as he saw it has indeed died.

And a new life, new possibilities

replace the implacable rock of doubt and death.

 

From this moment of recognition,

of faith and belief reborn,

comes the most profound and complete statement

of trusting faith we have in all the Gospels,

words that from Thomas,

the outsider to news of the Resurrection,

become the testimony of the whole Church:

“My Lord and my God!”

How often do we stand with Thomas,

imagining our story’s stuck?

Our new beginnings over with?

Too hurt, or grief-stricken or tired or intransigent

to let things be different.

To believe Good News.

To change, to let go of the safety of a well-nursed doubt,

or a past slight, or the harsh judgement of self and sin.

 

James K. Baxter writes of his own journey,

Love is the answer to the dark voices

Of the demons that trouble us when youth has gone,

Saying, “You fool, you have had your day

And wasted it.” The spirit of a spring morning

When the wind moves gently over the grass

Is enough to tell us that the stone at the door of the tomb

has been lifted.

 

Alleluia. Adonai.

 

It seems to me that Thomas takes a week

to roll the rock of all of that away

from his understanding of the tomb.

It seems of profound importance too

that Jesus knows Thomas’ need to come to terms

with what has been so wounded and so broken on the cross.

What was such weakness is now glorious victory.

What was shattered is remade and redemptive.

Now transformed, the wounds of love on Jesus’

hands and side are not denied by Jesus’ resurrection.

They are real, and they are what a God

who chooses to be one with us,

to wear our flesh and blood, carries

in Christ risen from the dead

as emblems of that love, its cost, and of its triumph.

 

Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche communities worldwide

for people with intellectual disabilities, writes:

Jesus invites each one of us, through Thomas,
to touch not only his wounds,
but those wounds in others and in ourselves,
wounds that can make us hate others and ourselves
and can be a sign of separation and division.
These wounds will be transformed into a sign of forgiveness
through the love of Jesus
and will bring people together in love.
These wounds reveal that we need each other.
These wounds become the place of mutual compassion,
of indwelling and of thanksgiving.

We, too, will show our wounds
when we are with him in the kingdom,
revealing our brokenness
and the healing power of Jesus.

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