Tag Archives: risen Christ

Give Thomas a break

Preparing to preach today, I was struck by how narrow our vision is when we consider “doubting Thomas.” I said in my homily that we are too hard on him.

He wasn’t in the Upper Room (with its locked doors for fear of the authorities) when Jesus appeared. The apostles there were startled and terrified (as Luke 24:37 puts it).

Jesus shows them his wounds and they are filled with joy, at least in John’s Gospel (20:21). In Luke they are incredulous for joy and amazed (24:41) or, as the NRSV puts it, “in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering.”

Eating with him, they seem to be convinced that it is really Jesus, risen, and not a phantasm.

When Thomas heard the news, I wondered if he thought the other apostles were suffering from an illusion, projecting their dreams to visualize a risen Jesus.

Perhaps Thomas was seeking a real encounter with Jesus and was suspicious of their stories. After all, these same disciples had been told of the risen Jesus by the women who had the courage to go to the tomb that Sunday morning. But they seem to have dismissed the women and doubted them. They were the doubting disciples – of course, the women had brought the message and, in a macho world, who listens to women?

But when Jesus comes to the disciples the next Sunday, he doesn’t chew him out. Rather, he invites Thomas to come and put his finger in the wounds. He invites intimate contact.

And how does Thomas respond? With one of the most profound affirmations of Jesus in the Gospels, “My Lord and my God.”

Thomas gets a bad rep – while the other disciples get excused for their doubts. But Thomas opened himself to intimacy, to touching the wounds of the Lord.

Do we long to touch the wounds of the Lord? Or do we want to keep Him at a distance?

The_Incredulity_of_Saint_Thomas_by_Caravaggio


Caravaggio, Michelangelo Merisi da, 1573-1610. The Incredulity of Saint Thomas.[retrieved April 8, 2018] Original source: Wikipedia Commons.

 

 

“Kids”

One word in today’s Gospel, the post-resurrection appearance of Jesus at the sea of Tiberias (John 21: 1-19), struck me.

“Children.”

Jesus addresses the seven apostles who have gone back fishing as children.

I checked numerous translations of the Greek παιδία – children. Almost all the English translations render this as “children” though the Jerusalem Bible uses “friends,” and the French La Bible de Jérusalem uses “les enfants.

Two Spanish translations use “muchachos,” which also means children, though I hear it more often used in Honduras for young people, “guys.” A friend said he translates “muchachos” as “boys.”

But the most intriguing translation is from Msgr. Knox: “lads” – so very British.

Jesus is calling his disciples “kids.”

Are we like kids in our relationship with Jesus, going about our daily tasks, not thinking about him, intent on what we want to do, unaware of his presence and unable to recognize him?

Peter has to face this directly when Jesus questions him.

“Do you love me [ἀγαπᾶς με]more than these?” asks Jesus. And twice Peter responds, “You know Lord, that I’m your friend [φιλῶ σε].”

Then Jesus asks him, “Are you my friend?” Peter, exasperated, answers, “Yes Lord, you know that.”

At the end of the scene, Jesus invites Peter: “Follow me.”

Don’t follow your old occupation, but follow in my path, my way that brings life – even though you will suffer.

I love you as a parent loves her children, but I want more from you. I want your wholehearted love, the love of agape which comes from following me – even to the Cross. For having passed through death on the Cross, the Lord Jesus offers us the risen life.

Yes, in many ways we are kids in our faith; but Jesus wants us to be more, to have a fuller life.

A fuller life comes from willing to let ourselves be led by Jesus – wherever that may lead us. It led Peter to a Cross and only God knows where it will lead us.


Slightly revised at 5:30 pm.