Sunday Week 1 of Easter Sunday Week 4 of Easter Year C

Sunday Week 2 of Easter Year C

Print Version April 19th, 1998

Poor Thomas. Thomas the Twin. Doubting Thomas. It seems we never remember poor Thomas except for what he isn’t—he isn’t his brother and he isn’t faithful, he doesn’t believe.
But Thomas is—in his own right—the first and greatest of believers. And what he comes to believe is still astonishing.
The disciples are huddled in fear of the authorities, locked up and safely behind bars when Jesus is suddenly among them. His first word, “Shalom.” “Peace be with you.” He shows them his hands and his side. And that vision is enough to get them going. “Shalom,” he says again. The absent Thomas returns and finds the group all a-flutter. And this is where we jump to conclusions at Thomas’ expense. Thomas is not willing to trust their testimony so we label him Doubter. But what do they testify? “We have seen the Lord.” Yet for Thomas seeing is not believing. Or rather believing is too important to be left to sight: Thomas wants to touch. Wants the confirmation of the flesh. Doesn’t just want to see the truth but wants to entrust himself to it. And truth not just about the reality of this apparition. Thomas knows, I believe, just what an outrageous claim the others are making without their knowing it. Not that Jesus, once dead, is alive but that Jesus, alive, still bears the wounds of his death. The others don’t see deeply enough—the holes just serve to convince them of the truthfulness of their eyes. They don’t go far enough … but Thomas, who once offered to walk with Jesus all the way to his death, does—he grasps something more.
A week later, as John tells it, nothing has changed. For all they’ve seen the living Jesus the disciples are still behind locked doors. Still Jesus comes with Shalom on his lips. He comes to Thomas: “bring your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side.” And Thomas touches his friend, not to confirm his reality but to know him through his wounds. And where the others had got all excited Thomas becomes solemn. He sees with his fingers what the others could not see with their eyes and he testifies to what he has discovered: “My Lord and my God!” Not just his risen Lord that he can feel beneath his fingertips but his God. This is God and God has wounds.
It seems that you can have the Holy Spirit breathed upon you, even by Jesus himself, and still not grasp who Jesus is. Seeing is not believing. Seeing is something you can do from a distance, above all from an emotional distance. You can see—and maybe know—but still not feel and still not entrust yourself. You can see pain but not feel it. You can know another’s wounds but not take the risk to enter them.
God’s wounds are our place of entry into God. Maybe they are all we have in common with God. John tells us that he writes all this down for our sake, so that we might go beyond seeing to touch the reality of God.
Look around you this morning and what do you see. An Easter people, rich in the Risen Lord, alive in his life. Look around you this morning and what touches you. An Easter people still wounded like their Risen Lord. Only through our own wounds are we able to touch the reality of one another. Only through our own wounds are we able to be touched by the reality of God.
The mystery here is beyond me. The marks of evil, of dying, of violence are things we hate. We hate them for what they do to us and to those we love. For how they mar the beauty born there, and ruin the wholeness of life. We pray to be healed, to be made whole, to find freedom. But in our one glimpse of a human being fully healed from death, completely whole, and absolutely free—in Jesus Risen—we find the marks remain.
If Thomas is right, the very things we spend our lives trying to escape turn out to be what we have in common with Jesus, with God.
If Thomas is right, Jesus—Risen, Alive, Wounded—is here today offering in his hands and his side a way into God, a way into each other.
If Thomas is right then peace and joy have come to us today.

Entry Filed under: Berkeley,Homilies


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