My dear friends, Happy Easter!
“Peace Be With You.”
Today’s Gospel focuses on two of Jesus’ post –resurrection appearances to his disciples in Jerusalem. Doubt and fear united in a powerful bond as the Apostles cowered together wondering what each new day would bring.
Relying upon news reports, information they couldn’t quite grasp, their own inability to understand what was happening, they must have feared what was yet to come.
It’s not hard today to see and feel the parallels of emotion and reaction, – the fear, the bunker mentality, the loneliness, and the questioning of faith that the apostles were experiencing.
Much easier for us to understand the whole jumble of emotions, their clinging to faith, fond memories of the past mixed with moments of despair, doubt and the loneliness of lost community.
I’m sure just like us, they were wondering, would life ever be normal again, was their beloved community dismantled, how could they hold on for another day, another week, another month?
Doubt was a powerful and sustaining bond as they continued in hiding that day.
Enter Jesus. He slips into the room knowing that the apostles are full of despair, pain, fear and doubt.
“Peace be with you.
Despite this palliative care, gazing into Christ’s wounds, the disciples were slow to believe.
It makes you wonder why Thomas is the one marginalized and often remembered as the doubter. They seem to share his doubt as they confronted so much uncertainty.
It’s not hard to understand their reluctance to accept the news.
Their vision of Christ’s resurrected presence, maybe like our own, is obscured by what appears to be God’s silence, God’s absence in the wake of unfathomable events.
They see Jesus before them, stare into his wounds; yet they can’t shake the doubt, fear and worry that has them on edge. Traumatized by the suffering, they feel alone and uncertain.
The Gospel writer doesn’t actually tell us if Thomas follows through with placing his finger in the wounds that are before him.
Thomas, like the other disciples, looks directly into the wounds just like we are now as illness, death, uncertainty surround… yet it becomes for him a climatic moment of faith.
He responds, “My Lord and My God.”
This Gospel is a rich resurrection narrative for us to hold on to each day.
Thomas gives voice to a new reality. He proclaims with a new boldness of faith that the resurrected Christ in all his divinity is present.
All the promises have been fulfilled.
Just as God’s breadth once brought humanity into life, Christ breathes his Spirit into the disciples, commissioning them to speak words of peace, to offer acts of comfort, to be agents of healing, to sustain community. It’s their new work and it’s our new work too as we confront a world riddled with doubt and desperate circumstances. It’s our work to do now more than ever, just differently.
We know that the work will not be easy.
There will be times like the apostles when we find ourselves engulfed in the eerie silence, feeling alone, as if we have lost our way, cowering behind locked doors with more than a few moments of doubt.
Doubt born out of our isolation, exhausting worry and fear as we stare into the wounds of illness, loss and the inability to live in full relationship with one another.
Doubt so confounding that it becomes as powerful and sustaining as certainty.
Doubt so very powerful that we question God’s presence in our midst.
Yet if you listen deeply and look more closely God’s grace pierces the silence and gives witness to presence through the actions of others.
As we gaze into the wounds of our time, the reach of our faith extends well beyond Good Friday and Easter.
The breadth of God’s Spirit continues to imbue us – God’s people – with the grace that brings faith, hope and the possibility of new life.
This is our Easter story, the legacy of our life together as a beloved St. Michael’s community.
For we know – our God will triumph and lead us beyond doubt, uncertainty, and these desperate circumstances.
As we gaze into the daily wounds of our life, we must look for the healing and life.
For the silence, the seeming absence of God, is pierced by grace all around us – hospital workers valiantly healing the sick, /grocery store employees feeding the hungry, /church family members and neighbors comforting one another, in our prayers as we mourn our dead, / as we witness essential workers risking their own well-being to help us to live safely in community, (however limited for now), / as we hear those who cheer each night from their windows, terraces and streets, as we connect with a global community experiencing the same trial, /as we expose systemic inequities of inequality and injustice – as we bring new life to a sustaining truth and powerful certainty – we are not alone.
We may have different roles, we may look differently, have different beliefs, live in different cultures, but united we quietly slip into the mayhem and bear God’s peace to our infirm world.
Let us respond with resolute faith – “My Lord and My God.”
Happy Easter! Alleluia!