Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sunday 4/3/16

Today's gospel is "Doubting Thomas." It also contains the command from Christ to evangelize the world and to forgive--and not to forgive--sins.

This is a huge gospel, filled with important concepts. Christ seems to be delegating authority, creating a structure and a hierarchy for his mission. But first He is appearing to His fearful disciples to confirm His resurrection. His instructions to his followers are buried within this revelation. The group, of course, believes but Thomas, absent from the first visitation, does not.

Thomas is a guy of some consequence in the gospel. He not seen often (he is seen only in John) but when he is seen, he is seen big. When Christ learns of the death of Lazarus--which He clearly manipulates to show His power over death-- the apostles are fearful to return to Judea where Christ was so recently threatened with stoning. But Thomas says to the apostles, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him." After the Last Supper Christ muses about the next days, about preparing "a place for you" in His father's house. And then He says, "And whither I go you know, and the way you know" and Thomas immediately replies "Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?" Christ responds "I am the way, the truth and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me."

Thomas is a a bit over his head here--as they all seem to be--but is a fulcrum balancing faith and disbelief. He is brave, he has seen Lazarus raised from the dead, he has great loyalty to Christ. But this step, His resurrection, is too much for even him, even when verified by his fellows.

Christ clarifies it by returning and showing Thomas His wounds. The philosophy of Christ, the two great commandments, the new testament, the new covenant--all of these revolutionary thoughts--do not work unless Christ rises from the dead. Otherwise He is just another brilliant philosopher. (Nikos Kazantzakis, in "The Last Temptation of Christ," has James running through town to his father Zebedee to announce that Christ, a great prophet, has come out of the desert after forty days and forty nights and Zebedee exclaims, "Not another one!")

But He is not just "another one." The apostles, disbelieving and shaken at His death, are not just convinced, they are changed. They are not the same people as before. They are transformed and able to shoulder their burden to evangelize the world.

Like Paul on the road to Damascus, they are revolutionized in a moment. A thunderclap.

In a singularity because belief and skepticism are, like Thomas, twins.

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