Low Sunday, 16 April, 2023: Acts: 2:42-47; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31
Well over a century-and-a-half ago, George MacDonald, a Scottish clergyman and novelist, wrote, “Seeing is not believing.” He was referring to today’s Gospel.
I agree. Thomas may say: Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe–but is that really the cause of his disbelief?
This is the same man who said, Let us go to die with him, when Jesus was on the way to Bethany. How much does Thomas mean what he says? When Jesus is arrested, Thomas does not go to die with him. He is not at the crucifixion to see nails driven into Jesus’ hands, or the lance pierce his side. Do shame and guilt prevent his belief? Is he afraid to face Jesus? Let’s put ourselves in Thomas’ shoes because, at some point in our lives, we’ve probably been there.
When Thomas sees the Risen Lord, the first words he hears are, Peace be with you. Then he is invited to do precisely what he said he needed to do.
I don’t think it’s the seeing that awakens Thomas’ belief, but Jesus’ knowing acceptance of him: this is indeed the same Jesus who called him in the first place and for whom he once confessed a willingness to die. This is the one who heals by forgiving, the Jesus of Nazareth in whom God is active and present.
Is it seeing per se that generates believing? Or is it being known, being forgiven, being restored, whether two-thousand years ago or today through the living members of Christ’s body?