Hiding fearing doubting April 7 2013 Rev. Malcolm Spencer
We have become a fairly skeptical people. We see something on TV or read something in the paper and we wonder if it is true and others often challenge us about that. We are people who require proof. Like after a betrayal of a secret or a relationship we need proof of change before we trust. The disciples were unsure if they could trust the women who claimed that Jesus was alive –they were scared and returned to the family home where they had had the Passover with Jesus and then they wondered would the authorities come after them. Here they were hiding and fearful. Sudden out of nowhere come Jesus and says Peace be with you. There is no fearful hiding from this saviour he will find them and He finds us even when we fear and hide he finds us.
Jerome Herauf an America Catholic writer puts it this way “ when there is a crisis or tragedy, we eager await the first words of those who have come through the trauma, knowing their survival is exceptional, we hang on their every word, they are charged with so much meaning.” When I took disaster training a few years ago I became aware of the situation for survivors and the first thing one does is comfort and also check their clothing for anything in their clothing that might assist in hurting themselves.
That is the sort of trauma the disciples came through – a violent death of Jesus and before that a harrowing night of being accused of being with him – but he comes in peace – in reassurance. Often the very thing we need after tragic events is the warm hope of peace.
Dean Feldermeyer, used the latin term cogito tute which means Think for yourself to describe our doubting Thomas after all he was not with them the first time they saw the risen Jesus. Here was a guy who thought for himself. Feldermeyer was fascinated by the case of Bernie Madoff who was a highly believable character who bilked thousands of their savings after promising high returns on their money- they were not thinking for themselves but they will be very skeptical after that. I am sure those who have3 e-mail are used to claims that we have money in a foreign bank if we send our banking particulars to them. The delete button and junk mail place is where those claims go. So perhaps we can identify with Thomas who really wants proof of a fantastic claim.
John’s Gospel is about relationship and especially the relationship between Jesus and the disciples and with parent God. He came with deep warm peaceful love to the fearful hiding disciples and put them at ease and gave them hope. Something that is hard to share yet they tried with Thomas but they couldn’t convince him. Then Jesus comes again and this time come in peace and asks Thomas to touch his wounds and put his hand in his side. Thomas’ doubt dissolves and he becomes a believer.
But before we say doubt goes away Jesus does not criticize his doubt he invited him to explore further. Doubt is often the doorway to faith not it’s opposite. It lets us think for ourselves and helps us to grow further in love and finding peace. We too can touch wounds in ourselves today sometimes spiritual wounds or wounds of the heart and also physical wounds which trouble us and we encouraged to see the wounded around us, the lonely, forgotten and troubled, those who cannot see a way out and who don’t believe anymore in hopeful words from anybody. We have the example of risen Jesus who brings peace and accepts the wounds of others sharing his own wounds. Here is a template of love and Justice because he touches us in love and we touch him in prayer, praise and ritual we can face the wounded broken society and those who say nothing can be done. We can stem the tide of apathy and feeling helpless and turn our striving for justice into ways to restore right economic and environmental relationship. And we can do that by ourselves and with others. This started right here from the doubt of one man to the work of faith people for a long time. This is our time our place to find and renew our relationship with Jesus to understand that we who celebrate Easter celebrate his new life with us and his desire to see us, know us and give us the inner peace to keep going on our faithful Journey.
As a congregation we are on a new journey a journey of renewal- we hunger for the peace, love and Justice which comes from the touch and vision of our risen Lord. Our hungry spiritual heart is matched by one who is anxious to see us through and be our guide assuring us of his love but allowing us to doubt but in the context of knowing how loved we are. I think anyone who desires a closer understanding of a mystical but powerful relationship with Jesus read the book of John as it explores in detail the hope of redemption through a deep and abiding opening to him as a friend and guide and spiritual healer.
Jean Vanier spent a year on that book with his spiritual director and it changed his life and he went on to help set up L’arche giving support dignity and equality with those of limited intellectual. Ask Jean if he thinks rationality is what makes us humans human he would say no it is compassion and the ability to relate with others.
Doctors without Borders did not start from a rational plan it came from the compassion of a group of French doctors. Our food bank and community dinner did not start from an experiment in better living it started from compassion.
We are people formed in the crucible of a violent action at a Passover many years ago but now we are the people of a risen saviour who has led us to this time and is with us to heal the wounds to touch the wounds of ourselves, our city, our country and globally.
We are given a fresh path of renewal let us take that with a joy that only comes from our Easter knowledge and a joy that is ours as a people of God.
Let us taste and know the joyful peace of Christ.
Let us pray
Risen and loving Lord you have given us a sign of great love and hope –help us to open our hearts to you and to love as you have loved and keep us ever in your love.
Jesus Name we Pray Amen