Saturday, 14 April 2012

How happy?


Gospel
of John 20:19-31 



In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.
‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’
After saying this he breathed on them and said:
‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’
Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord’, he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him:
‘You believe because you can see me.
Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’
There were many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name.


“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
― C.S. Lewis



I wonder if Thomas was an identical twin and if so, had he and his brother had ever played tricks on people about which of them was which? Or maybe not tricks - just the general confusion that happens when people find twins difficult to tell apart. At least until you really get to know them. 


Maybe with Thomas, it was more the fact that he was a twin than a doubter; that he knew you cannot just go by appearances. Jesus had already played the role of the gardener and the wandering teacher without being recognised. If Thomas was going to believe then he wanted to recognise Jesus' heart - he wanted to touch it. 


Many people, myself including, have a desire to experience the Risen Christ; isn't this just what Easter is meant to be about? To experience the supernatural; the paradox of knowing that Eternity has been changed; that the gates of Heaven have been opened and the Kingdom of God is here.


Is that why many people, myself included, end up with a sense of  anti-climax; wondering if it was worth it. After all that Lenten denial and journeying; after all the rituals and liturgies of Holy Week; after the candles, splashing, incensing, singing, solemnity and promises of last Saturday and Sunday - to be surrounded by the deep sighs and hrumph's of life 'getting back to normal' and wondering 'what was that all about?'


Thomas must have wondered; after the judgement and the death; even after the claims of the resurrection - whilst his brothers and sisters are sitting behind closed doors and windows and he is trying to gather supplies and wangle a way to get them back to Galilee - or whatever it was he was doing - 'what was that all about?'


Poor Thomas even missed it this time; the beginning of this passage when Jesus reminds the fearful followers what it is all about. And it is a reminder - they have heard in in sermons and parables; they have seen in healings and accusations; Simon Peter even had a heart to heart with Jesus about it.


It is the Spirit of Forgiveness; forgiveness that we struggle so much with; forgiveness of the most Grace-ful, unreasonable and undeserved kind. To be able to forgive the friend and the stranger; the valued and unworthy; the confused and the guilty; those that will not say sorry and those that cannot; and especially to forgive those who cannot forgive themselves.


And, if we do not forgive, then to bear all that that means on ourselves.


Thomas asked for the opportunity to get inside Jesus - instead Jesus got inside him  - as he gets inside each of us.

We breathe with Jesus' breath; with the Father's breath; we have the same ministry that Jesus was given; to speak with his Spirit that gives people hope, dignity and joy - that's about 'not normal' and as supernatural as you are ever going to experience. 


If you accept it...if you say...


My Lord and my God.




wordinthehand2012




“People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
― Mother Teresa


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