I can manage

Everyone experiences Good Friday, but not everyone experiences Easter Sunday. Good Friday is part of the “package” of being human. Easter Sunday is too but it does not come automatically; it has to be welcomed. Some sort of frustration and suffering is part of our life from our earliest days but we have to willingly receive the turning of that suffering into joy. St Thomas is the patron saint of those who resist this process.

open_bibleAll four gospel writers insist on the disbelief of those who had been close to Jesus when rumours went around that he had risen from the dead. Some had actually given up and gone home (Emmaus) or returned to their old jobs (fishing). Even when he stood before them “they just could not believe it.” Gently, even humourously (“have you anything to eat?”) he leads them to believe.

The five weeks of Lent are followed by the five weeks of Easter. We are quick to hear bad news; it takes time for us to receive good news. We seem to have a built in resistance to it.

Growing up, I used to help on the farm and one day we were dosing cattle. When we’d finished it was my job to drive them back to the field. I ran ahead of them to open the gate and then ran back to drive them through it. Did I need help? No! I could manage on my own. The cattle proved obstinate and ignored the open gate so I had to run round them and head them back. They again ignored the gate. This game went on several times but I would not give up and ask for help. My father let me have my way until I was totally frustrated and then quietly came along and we did it together.

We fiercely defend our independence. We know who we are and we have made up our minds how to live our lives. We don’t like interference. Jesus’ rising from the dead did not fit into Thomas’ world. It disturbed his confident view of who he was and how he ran his life. Yes, Jesus was a great teacher and he, Thomas, was ready to die for him (John 11:16). But that made sense; lots of people are prepared to follow, and die for, charismatic leaders. But this rising from the dead made no sense.

Receiving the resurrection, as the early disciples gradually came to do, changed everything. Suddenly the meaning of Jesus’ message “while I was with you” became clear. The ancient stories and prophecies began to make sense and their own lives took on a new meaning. We cannot read the early chapters of Acts without being astonished. These uneducated men of Galilee are lecturing the Sanhedrin. Are they really the people we knew before? This is the good news for each of us. But it doesn’t come automatically. We have to “receive” the resurrection.

3 April 2016                            Easter Sunday 2C

Acts 5:12-16                           Revelations 1:1…19                           John 20:19-31

 

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