Sunday, April 3

Second Sunday in Easter

Acts 2:14a,22-32
1 Peter 1:3-9
John 20:19-31
Psalm 16


Poor Thomas. You know, he gets a bad rap. Taking all the blame for doubting, when the other apostles are no better:

Mark 16 says that "When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it."

Or check out Luke 24: "It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense."

You might think they’d all have been more willing to listen, considering their experiences with him over the last three years; but apparently not.

There’s nothing comparable to the human will to disbelieve-- to be practical and logical, to deny anything as truth that we can’t see for ourselves, or grasp in our own two hands.

Why do we do that? I can think of a few reasons:

We don’t want to be thought foolish, or easily duped. This is the biggest part, for example, of why we can be reluctant to help those who ask for money from passers by on the street. How can we be sure whether the one who asks for our help , really needs it? How do we know we’re not being scammed?

Or maybe because we’re stubborn. We know what we know, and there’s security in that. Admitting that we might be wrong, or being open to illogical possibility, can be upsetting. I like my comfort zone just fine, thank you; and I don’t like to be pulled out of it.

We don’t want to be hurt. As a friend of mine says, “A pessimist is never disappointed.” It’s sort of a self-protection mechanism: if we don’t count on something, or someone, then we think we won’t suffer so much if it doesn’t live up to expectations. Well, maybe. . .

But now, think about what is contained in that creed that we’ll say together in a few minutes; the things we stand for, as we gather here tonight:
That an infinite God, creator of all that is, decided to contain all that into the life of a totally dependent baby with unfocused eyes and thrashing fists.

That an omnipotent God would stand silent as his death is ordered, a command given for no better reason than to satisfy the bloodlust of an unruly crowd.

That this whipped, crucified, pierced body would be miraculously restored to life.

And all, because he loves us-- each and every one of us foolish, stubborn, fearful people, beyond all logic, beyond all imagining.
Not easy at all; because what we profess makes no logical sense. And yet, here we are: gathered in the name of this intangible belief in an illogical God. And -- not only professing, but challenged to “show forth in our lives” the gift, the unmerited grace offered to one and all by that life, and death, and resurrection.
Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith...

Brothers and sisters, this is the lesson, and the challenge, that I hear in tonight’s Gospel: we are certainly blessed, as were Thomas and the apostles, by the gifts of God we see before us, every day; but even more so when we come to trust what we do not see, or control. When we are willing to look past the facts, and reach for the truth. And still more, when we are senseless enough to take the risk of sharing God’s love, and that search for truth, with those whose lives we touch-- regardless of how foolish it seems.

Singer Kathy Mattea puts this very simply:

"You've got to sing, like you don't need the money.
"Love, like you'll never get hurt.
"You got to dance, dance, dance like nobody's watchin'.
"It's gotta come from the heart, if you want it to work."