Unless I See… 4-3-24

You can listen to this reflection here. Sunday’s gospel reading is here

Nobody wants to miss a big event. Like when you’re in line for hot dogs at the stadium and you hear the crowd go wild at a homer with the bases loaded. That you didn’t see. Or you leave a party just before the A-List stars show up (happens to me all the time… not you?)

Perhaps the biggest “miss” in human history was Thomas’, who ducked out for a smoke or some errand, and missed the risen Lord of heaven and earth suddenly present for supper with his bereaved and confused disciples! And despite the fact that they all told him the same story – “Jesus was here! He really was!,” Thomas refused to buy it.

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

Did he think they were prey to a shared hallucination borne of wishful thinking? Were his credulity muscles worn out by the roller-coaster of the past few days? Or is it that Thomas, always a fast decider, quickly evaluated the data available to him and deemed it insufficient?

Is Thomas the patron saint of doubters? Or is he the patron saint of “trust but verify?” There was nothing lacking in Thomas’ faith, nor his courage. He was quick to follow Jesus into situations of danger if called for. But for some reason, despite having witnessed the raising of Lazarus, he found it too far a stretch to believe on faith alone that Jesus was risen from the dead. He wanted to see, he wanted to touch.

He is not alone. Do you know people who are drawn to the Jesus story, drawn to the life of the church, even inclined to believe – if only they could see some proof? Some people are wired that way, others formed that way by past experiences or disappointments. As this story continues, Jesus indulges Thomas’ desire to see with his physical eyes – and commends those who are able to believe on faith-sight alone.

For us, faith-sight is all we have. After the Ascension, nobody got to see Jesus’ resurrection body or   touch his wounds in this world. (For a great song about the next, here is Gillian Welch’s “By the Mark.”) Yet God does allow us to “see” the reality of God-Life around us. We might use the same criteria that Jesus did when John’s disciples asked if he really was the Anointed One they’d been expecting. “Go and tell John what you see,” he replied, “The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” (Luke 7:22).

We can see – and experience – amazing healing, transforming love, injustice overcome, chains of addiction and destructive patterns broken. Some Christian communities even witness the (recently) dead raised. One message Easter shouts to us is “Nothing is impossible with God!” The more we believe and live out that truth, the more evidence we perceive.

Christ is visible now through us, his body in the world. His wounds are visible in ours, and as our wounds become healed ones, as his were, healing can flow through them to others. Then everyone can see and touch and believe.

© Kate Heichler, 2024. To receive Water Daily by email each morning, subscribe hereHere are the bible readings for next Sunday. Water Daily is also a podcast – subscribe to it here on Apple, Spotify or your favorite podcast platform.

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