Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Feast of the Resurrection

Thomas autem unus ex duodecim qui dicitur Didymus non erat cum eis quando venit Iesus dixerunt. ergo ei alii discipuli vidimus Dominum, ille autem dixit eis nisi videro in manibus eius figuram clavorum et mittam digitum meum in locum clavorum et mittam manum meam in latus eius, non credam.

et post dies octo, iterum erant discipuli eius intus, et Thomas cum eis. venit Iesus ianuis clausis et stetit in medio, et dixit pax vobis. deinde dicit Thomae infer digitum tuum huc et vide manus meas et adfer manum tuam et mitte in latus meum et noli esse incredulus sed fidelis. respondit Thomas et dixit ei Dominus meus et Deus meus. dicit ei Iesus quia vidisti me credidisti beati qui non viderunt et crediderunt. multa quidem et alia signa fecit Iesus in conspectu discipulorum suorum quae non sunt scripta in libro hoc. haec autem scripta sunt ut credatis quia Iesus est Christus Filius Dei et ut credentes vitam habeatis in nomine eius

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said , Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

St John xxi.24-31

Uncertainty does seem to rule our lives. Philosophically, it is very difficult to be certain of anything since we are capable of questioning everything and anything we like. Our "understanding" of quantum physics remains based upon things that not only do we not know, they cannot be known. Mathematically there are things which may be true but for which there is no mathematically rigorous proof. Science, properly done, can only be agnostic with regard to religious faith.
With regard to the resurrection, we have a stark choice - either Jesus did, or He did not, rise from the dead. Again, it is impossible to prove one way or the other. If it happened, it is a unique event in history and cannot be subjected to scientific rigour. Knowing God, this was deliberate for the Resurrection was not an event to demonstrate that He exists once and for all, else the Incarnation would have taken place with entirely different agenda. No, this Resurrection was for a few little folk to complete their faith. Remembering the words of Iranaeus, evidence is not enough either to convince the unbeliever nor dissuade the believer.
Yet St Thomas is lucky. He doubts in the Resurrection, but He has not doubted the Lord, at least until His Crucifixion. Until that awful night in the garden, he has been prepared to die for Christ, to die for His teachings and to die for love. Clearly, St Thomas had faith in Jesus as a teacher, a rabbi, and as an extraordinary worker of miracles. His expectations, however, overruled his capacity to believe. That is why the Lord was able to convince him with empirical evidence of the gruesome practice of putting Thomas' fingers in His side.
Clearly, there is a type of doubt that is not an enemy of Faith, but rather strives to perfect our personal faith. Faith is indeed certain, but we are not perfect - our perfection comes with an encounter with the risen Christ. What must St Thomas have been like after this encounter? It certainly did not change his resolve to die for the Faith which Tradition tells us happened in India. However, would this have happened if he had not had his faith perfected with his fingers and hands in the wounds of Christ.
In doubting, we recognise the cracks and imperfections in our faith. When faced with the troubles and difficulties and sheer horrors of living, the cracks show and are evident. We have a choice: do we ignore those cracks and pretend that they do not exist only to fall through them later in our lives? Do we give up knowing that we are imperfect, unable to rectify the problems, and succumb, not to doubt, but to unbelief? Or do we recognise that our faith is tiny, almost insubstantial and fragile as Jesus often complained, accept that in humility, and use what we have to trust that the Lord will help us to heal those cracks by more and more experiences of the Resurrection.
Yes, blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. Again, as the Lord teaches us, even a little faith will help us to move mountains - indeed having the tiniest amount will be enough to approach the King of Heaven.
We bring ourselves to the Cross for our sins to be removed. We bring ourselves to the Tomb to remember our fragility even to death. We wait in the garden in hope (the hope which breeds faith which in turn breeds love) for the Risen Christ to work in us the miracle of healing.
I wish you a very happy and fulfilling Pasch.

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