Reflection for Sunday – April 24, 2022
Readings: Acts 5: 12-16; Revelations 1: 9-11a, 12-13, 17-19; John 20: 19-31
Preacher: Nancy De Rycke
When I was born, in the days before ultrasounds, I was predicted to be a boy; my name was to be Thomas. I wasn’t Thomas.
Things aren’t always what we plan on. My parents had to change gears pretty quickly to adapt to this baby girl with no name–all they had prepared for changed.
In our post Easter Gospel, many had to change gears:
- Mary of Magdala, was bravely doing what women usually did (anoint and tend to the dead). Instead, her bravery was redirected: She was sent out to tell the community that Jesus “was not there, but had risen…” She was to be the Apostle to the Apostles—not what she or they had planned on or were used to (a woman teaching the men?!).
- Then there’s Thomas, the same person who in another setting asks Jesus: “…to whom shall we go?…” and “We do not know the way…” This time, Thomas had missed one Sunday gathering and assumed they were hallucinating (or at least exaggerating what they thought they had seen without him) and demands more proof. When Jesus comes this time, Thomas, in his honesty, has a fuller experience than the rest: He gets to touch Jesus, to connect in a more intimate way! He too has to change gears—quickly stating a succinct belief: “My Lord and my God!”
(I think most of us would’ve blurted “Oh my God!?!?!?!?!”…?!”)
Jesus responds in a way: “You ain’t seen nothing yet…”—even some of us who are trying to believe without seeing can be blessed too.
So in today’s Gospel, maybe wrongly called “doubting Thomas” (perhaps better called “not afraid to ask questions Thomas”), they and we are invited to “change gears.” To change our expectations of “same old, same old” when it comes to believing in God and in how and where we find God. And that will continue in the next few weeks of catching fish where there were none all night, being asked how we much love, being called sheep, and on and on.
What about you and me? The Easter season may be asking us to change gears, especially these days when war is raging, with heroic loving acts intertwined with senseless brutal violence. We, with all the Thomases of the world, can rightfully say: “We do not know the way…” We don’t know what to do to find ways to work for peace. Maybe we can join our helpless feeling with the powerlessness of so many in Ukraine and other places (including our own city!), and vow not to get desensitized to pain or suffering or violence.
We can put our fingers and hands and hearts into the wounds of our world and our neighbors and feel with them. Then perhaps, through our faith in God and our lives, we will find some way.
It seems the Church, too, is being called to regroup—to put our hands into the pain and mess we’ve made of being part of a faith community and change gears on what it means to be church on a journey together with every sister and brother in Christ—with no distinction or judgment.
Thomas and the rest of the believers of their time didn’t know exactly how to proceed. You and I—those who have not seen and are trying to believe—we don’t know exactly what to do either. But the challenge is to do something, to feel something. To let Jesus breathe on us and in us, to receive the Holy Spirit anew, to forgive and be forgiven, to let go of our old ways or expectations and to change gears. Perhaps we need to join in today’s Psalm 118: “Give thanks to our God whose love is everlasting… whose mercy endures forever!” We once again carry our sick world, our church, our selves to our God, as we say “Oh my God!?!?” Then we go out and work so that all may “have life in God’s name.”