Saturday, April 14, 2007

Poor Thomas

Gospel Reading: John 20: 19-31

Poor Thomas – if you want a clinical opinion, I think he is demonstrating all the signs of Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). It’s a bit like PMT, but curable!

After the Crucifixion Thomas has run away, too scared to come back to the secret rendezvous; then, somehow, he hears a rumour that Jesus is alive again. It can’t be, Thomas refuses to believe it until he has physical proof; he wants to see and feel the wounds, put his fingers in the holes. I wonder what the other disciples made of this behaviour?

You see the others had seen the Risen Lord. Suddenly Jesus is back and all is well again. But not for Thomas – he wasn’t there! Thomas is still in mourning and his world has collapsed. Peter and some of the others had started fishing again, the penny was still dropping. But Thomas – you know he was called “the twin” – was in hiding.

This is not the time or place to explore any more about this ‘twin business’ but it is important to note that for the writer of John’s gospel it was significant; on almost every occasion when Thomas’ name is mentioned there is a reference to him being ‘the twin’ – Didymous in the Greek.

There are no canonical gospel references to the other-half of the Thomas twin-set.

It is likely from what we know today of the relationships between twins that if Thomas had been separated from his ‘twin’, then this second trauma of the separation- and in a most dramatic way- from his Master, would have had a profound effect upon him.

In this light, Thomas’ need for physical proof makes sense.

In our attempt to be authentic disciples, we bring the complexities of our individual backgrounds and experiences to the common expression of what is it to be ‘the church’ today. Thomas’ doubt imploded when he encountered the risen Lord. But it had to be his ‘personal’ experience of the resurrected Jesus that convinced him.

We can try with all the gifts God has given us to convince others that Jesus lives, but for some, within there own situations it will not be enough.

Jesus will have to break through the locked doors, into the place of refuge, and offer to the doubter the invitation to be touched.

When we encounter these situations, we are to provide the place of safety into which Our Lord will enter, we are to share the joy of the one who sees and believes. We are not to dwell on the old wounds but to be transformed by the new life and the receipt of the Holy Spirit.

Then we too can respond with Thomas “My Lord and My God”.

Christ is Risen: He is Risen indeed. Alleluia

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