2nd Sunday Of Easter
This Sunday’s Gospel recounts for us the famous encounter between the Risen Christ and the doubting Thomas. Thomas refuses to believe that Christ is truly risen from the dead until he sees the wounds on his body and is able to touch them with his hands.
It is a consoling and sobering fact that the disciples Jesus chose were very flawed characters. All of them with the notable exception of Saint John, behaved shamefully at the time of his arrest trial and death; as they ran away as fast as their legs could carry them; Judas betrayed him for money, Peter denied that he ever even knew him, and even after Jesus had risen from the dead it is true to say that they were somewhat cautious in their response to the resurrection, as we can clearly see from the reaction of Thomas in this Sunday’s Gospel.
We all know what it is like to struggle with various aspects of our faith, as we are called to believe that which we cannot see with our eyes, touch with our hands and God knows, at times, may even doubt in our hearts. We know from bitter experience when God seems to be cold or distant, when faith seems unrewarded and our prayers go unheard or unanswered, when the passing of years brings loneliness or sickness, and when death itself seems to behave so indiscriminately and unfair at times. This past year has certainly tested the faith and sanity of all of us on occasions. At times God really does seem to make faith in him difficult for us who believe!
So, I think all of us can understand the unbelief of Thomas. He had been through a terrible time when the one in whom he placed all his faith seemed to let him down by a humiliating death. Here was a good man whose world had been turned upside down and who was struggling to try and make sense of it all. Suddenly, into that confusion and doubt walks Jesus whose response to Thomas is gentle and yet straightforward “blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” These simple words of Jesus spoken without any sense of condemnation are a reminder that genuine love reveals itself when we love and forgive the deeply flawed. The reaction of Jesus to this lack of faith gives hope to each and every one of us who in so many different ways struggle with our faith, our Church, with our own failures, and the failures of others. At times all of us can criticise the Church, some of it justified, but rarely do we recognise our own failures within it. It’s easy to criticise any institution, much harder to use our time and talents to make our Church and our parish community a better place.
This Sunday we are reminded that the disciples of Jesus were every bit as flawed as you and me. As members of the Church, we are called to the extraordinary task of making God known and loved. Like the disciples we are unworthy of such a responsibility, but then again since the very beginnings of the Church, Christ has chosen the imperfect to do something extraordinary for God.
The Gospel on this the second Sunday of Easter confronts us with the risen Christ and asks us to believe what at first Thomas would not. We are reminded that faith is as much about the heart as it is the head, for things can be real and true even if our senses fail us and reason proves inadequate.
This weekend’s encounter between Christ and his disciples reminds us that the love of God can transforms all lives and situations, that there is no one beyond his mercy and love. Now surely on this Sunday morning in this place that is something that should fill all of us with hope and confidence for the future.