Faithful Thomas

The gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter is the familiar story of the disciples in a locked room after Christ’s Resurrection. The Apostle Thomas is skeptical that Jesus is alive after witnessing his painful death. It is because of this story that Thomas is often called “Doubting Thomas.” It is an unfair characterization for the disciple. We should remember that it was only Thomas who was willing to follow Jesus to the cross and to be killed alongside him. Thomas’s disbelief in Jesus’ Resurrection is not due to his lack of faith, but to the pain, trauma, and grief he has experienced. We would do better calling him “Faithful Thomas,” who after seeing and touching Jesus’ wounds, falls to the ground and worships his Lord.

What has struck me most about this story is the account of Jesus’ wounds. Even after his resurrection, Jesus bears the marks of his shameful death. A friend and colleague shared this reflection from Richard Rohr writing on exactly this subject in his July 2014 Daily Meditation. Rohr writes:

The significance of Jesus’ wounded body is his deliberate and conscious holding of the pain of the world and refusing to send it elsewhere. The wounds were not necessary to convince God that we were lovable; the wounds are to convince us of the path and the price of transformation. They are what will happen to you if you face and hold sin in compassion instead of projecting it in hatred.

Jesus’ wounded body is an icon for what we are all doing to one another and to the world. Jesus’ resurrected body is an icon of God’s response to our crucifixions. The two images contain the whole message of the Gospel.

In this Easter season, may we be like Faithful Thomas, eager to see our Lord’s wounds and to be reminded that transformation in Christ is possible, for our sake and for the sake of the world.

The Reverend Jacob E. Pierce, Associate Rector