Today we are very fitting scripture lessons for the dark times we are in as a result of the Covid 19 crisis. In the first reading we hear about Noah who was locked up in the Ark with his family and the animals, for 40 days and 40 nights. He could go nowhere, surrounded by the waters of chaos. This is of course a reference to the waters of chaos before creation. But God put order in the chaos and so he will do again for Noah. And so He will do again always.
Just imagine, you are locked in a house for a certain amount of time. You decided you need to go out of the house to get fresh air or something like that. Then they unthinkable happens to break through your sadness and isolation. That very thing happens to the Apostle Thomas in today’s Gospel. I am sure by now we all can imagine how he must have felt locked up in the house. But the sad thing for him was that just as he was out Jesus appeared to the other disciples. So even when we are locked in marvelous things can happen. And of course, Thomas didn’t believe them. Yeah, yeah…nothing happens for days and now I am out suddenly something happens? How do you know it was the Lord? Maybe it is was an angel of one of the prophets? Did you say the wounds in his hands, feet’s and side? You didn’t huh? So, it wasn’t him. I will not believe until is see these very things…buddies. Is Thomas stubborn that he doesn’t believe at once? Is he stubborn that he leaves the house when it is dangerous? Thomas refused to be locked down by the Jewish authorities. Thomas is a man of reason who dares to question. That is not a bad quality. Because why should you believe? Because someone else tells you to? Or should you believe out of your own experience? In my opinion it should be the last option.
We should believe because we ourselves encountered the Risen Lord and experienced his closeness. So, when the disciples are all together Jesus appears again and then Thomas also believes because he experiences. There is something in that togetherness of all disciples. As it says it the second reading: “Peter stands with the 11”. As a Church, as Clergy we should stand together in trying times. And I am sorry…but that is not my experience always. Many times, it is more standing alone than with each other. Many times, we go our own ways and find our own things much more important than standing with each other. But we can always turn back and be united as the disciples were. We are Easter People and we should believe, live and love like Easter people.
The apostle Thomas, one of Jesus’s inner circle, had a different path to come to believe in the resurrection than the other. So what? Everyone has his own because in coming to faith! Thomas wanted evidence before he could believe that the risen Jesus had appeared to his fellow apostles. His story offers some comfort to us when we have questions or are in doubt. With the memory of our Lord’s crucifixion fresh in their hearts, the nervous disciples had locked the doors of their meeting room. Many times, we locked the doors as well. The doors of our houses, the door of our hearts, the door of our churches. The disciples had locked themselves for fear of Jewish reprisals. They were afraid that what was done to Jesus could be done to them. But something was about to happen that would be a turning point, for them and for us. Jesus appears and breaths and fills them with the Holy Spirit. “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.” In the power of the Spirit they left their self-imposed prison, to go out and spread the message of Jesus. And we should do the same. We should leave our self or by others-imposed prison and be the people of Easter. That there is life after death, that there is light after darkness.
Are we sometimes like those disciples, paralyzed by fear which makes us inactive and unwilling to bring good news? Our confidence is shaken by the darkness that surrounds us. Maybe we are tempted to abandon our Easter faith, unable to see the light on the end of the tunnel? Today’s gospel offers a solution. The Lord himself comes to us, whether in lockdown or out for a moment, and will revive our courage. No locked doors, nor locked hearts, not the Corona virus can keep him out. At first, Thomas refused to believe what the others had seen. He demanded definite proof. Jesus gave him the proof he needed. “Put your finger here,” he said, “and feel my wounds.” God does not get upset with us when we are doubtful or fearful. He can handle it. God, Jesus forgives our fears and doubts and offers us a new start. In tradition Thomas is often called doubting Thomas because of his initial doubt. But he was a man of deep faith. The man that eventually gave the greatest proclamation in the New Testament: “My Lord and my God.
Here at the table of the Lord, we meet with the risen Christ, just as St Thomas did. We give him our loyalty. We lay our hands in his wounds, which brings an end to our doubts and fears during darkness. In praying together, we help each other’s faith and strengthen our Christian community. It was because the Early Church met prayer and seemed a joyful community, that so many others came to believe. So today let us go forward as the Easter people and proclaim with St. Thomas: “My Lord and My God”! Let us go forward from darkness to the light that God has prepared for those that love him! Amen.