Letter to parishioners, 23 April 2022

Saturday, 23 April 2022

Dear Friends in Christ,

This week the Church will be reflecting upon the post-resurrection story of Jesus appearing to his disciples and then to Thomas, the one whom we remember for his ‘doubt’.

As we continue to live through strange and difficult times it is likely that we all feel the need to retrench and depend upon our own wits. As we struggle with the reports that fill the daily news from Ukraine, not forgetting the many other areas of conflict in the world, and the almost exponential rise in the cost of living, we seek our own ways of compartmentalizing the harsh reality of human greed and aggression. Sadly, the strategies we construct for ourselves are generally rooted in the wisdom and the practices of this world … they rarely include God!

As this week’s reading from John’s gospel (John 20:19-31) opens we find the disciples hiding in a locked room for fear of the Jews. Their leader had been subjected to a show trial and summary execution. They must have been overwhelmed with feelings of fear as the Jewish authorities sought to erase them and their disruptive teaching from Jerusalem and, therefore, the world. But, as they hid in their locked room, something unexpected and miraculous happened: Jesus came and stood among them. Not only did their risen teacher stand among them, but he also brought that same message they must have heard so many times before: Peace be with you.

Like the first disciples, locked in that room in Jerusalem, we have many times when we struggle with the concept of ‘peace’. It almost feels as though we were born to worry. As the cares and concerns of the world pile up around us, so our feelings of fear and worry grow to an extent that they seem unbearable. But, that is because we refuse to allow ourselves to hear those words which Jesus says to us all the time: Peace be with you.

The moment everyone focuses on in this Sunday’s reading is Thomas’ doubt, his need to have tangible proof that Jesus is really standing before him. But there are two other details that should be borne in mind: the other disciples, we are told, rejoiced only after he showed them his hands and his side. Their uncertainty, or ‘doubt’, was exactly the same as that of Thomas a week later. Then, comes Thomas’ exclamation: My Lord and my God!

The disciples rejoiced when they realized that they really were in the presence of the risen Christ. Thomas went one step further. Thomas set aside all worldly considerations and made a declaration that should be the model for each and every one of us. Thomas recognized the divinity of Jesus, and not just the fact that he had cheated the Romans and the Jewish leaders. Thomas, who lived under the same conditions of fear as the other disciples, responded with words that should inspire and strengthen us as we live out our earthly lives: My Lord and my God!

I pray that, no matter what occurs in the days of our mortal lives, we may all hold Thomas’ words at the forefront of our minds as we journey on in true faith, faith in the one who is risen, Jesus Christ our Lord and our God. I also pray that we might all know his peace in every moment of our lives.

With every blessing to you all,

Revd Stephen