Meditation on this Sunday's Gospel
by Kristin Berkey-Abbott
The readings for Sunday, April 19, 2009:
First Reading: Acts 4:32-35
Psalm: Psalm 133
Second Reading: 1 John 1:1--2:2
Gospel: John 20:19-31
This week's Gospel returns us to the familiar story of Thomas, who will always be known as Doubting Thomas, no matter what else he did or accomplished. One of the bloggers at RevGalBlogPals posts, "You have to love him (while being glad that we're not all branded for centuries on account of one aspect of our characters; you can so imagine it...'She's a bit of a panicking Kathryn, you know...')"; I would forever be Fretful Kristin, I'm afraid.
And yet, what I love about the Gospels most is that we get to see humans interacting with the Divine, in all of our human weaknesses. Particularly in the last few weeks, we've seen humans betray and deny and doubt--but God can work with us.
If you were choosing a group of people most unlikely to start and spread a lasting worldwide movement, it might be these disciples. They have very little in the way of prestige, connections, wealth, networking skills, marketing smarts, or anything else you might look for if you were calling modern disciples. And yet, Jesus transformed them.
Perhaps it should not surprise us. The Old Testament, too, is full of stories of lackluster humans unlikely to succeed: mumblers and cheats, bumblers and the unwise. God can use anyone, even murderers.How does this happen? The story of Thomas gives us a vivid metaphor. When we thrust our hands into the wounds of Jesus, we're transformed. Perhaps that metaphor is too gory for your tastes, and yet, it speaks to the truth of our God. We have a God who wants to know us in all our gooey messiness. We have a God who knows all our strengths and all our weaknesses, and still, this God desires closeness with us. And what's more, this God invites us to a similar intimacy. Jesus doesn't say, "Here I am, look at me and believe." No, Jesus offers his wounds and invites Thomas to touch him.
Jesus will spend the next several weeks eating with the disciples, breathing on them, and being with them physically one last time. Then he sends them out to transform the wounded world.
We, too, are called to lay our holy hands on the wounds of the world and to heal those wounds. It's not enough to just declare the Good News of Easter. We are called to participate in the ongoing redemption of creation. We know creation intimately, and we know which wounds we are most capable of healing. Some of us will work on environmental issues, some of us will make sure that the poor are fed and clothed, some of us will work with criminals and the unjustly accused, and more of us will help children.
In the coming weeks, be alert to the recurring theme of the breath of Jesus and the breath of God. You have the breath of the Divine on you too.