St. James Episcopal Church
Doubting Thomas. That disciple who gets the rap of not being able to believe in the resurrection. But, really, he wasn't alone in that struggle. That Easter morning that Mary met Jesus at the empty tomb? She thought he was the gardener until his SPOKE to her. Then and only then does she know him for who he really is and now believing, goes to the disciples, who are still locked away in the upper room, and tells them she has seen the Lord. Locked away in fear and grief, and maybe some shame and guilt as well, thinking about their own behavior in those final days and hours of his life. Maybe they were even a little afraid of what might happen if he was alive as Mary said. What might he have to say to them?
Then there he is. And what he says is, "Peace be yours" and SHOWS them evidence that it is him. Then they too, know him for who He is. He says nothing about betraying and denying him, of falling asleep or running away. Instead He offers them peace and gives them power to forgive sin, and they believe it is Jesus among them.
All but Thomas, who for some reason is not with them, and when he returns and is told that Jesus has been there, can't believe it. Well why should he? In reality, this one who gets the label of "doubting" is really not all that different from the rest. Mary only believed when she actually HEARD Jesus and the disciples when they SAW him. Thomas too, needs an experience. And Jesus provides it.
He returns several days later and when Thomas says he needs to TOUCH to believe, Jesus invites him to do just that. And in that moment, Thomas too BELIEVES.
Belief. At it's Greek root, to believe is "to give one's heart to." Jesus says to Thomas, "Be not unbelieving but believing" or, "give your heart to me." And Thomas responds, "My Lord and my God." He is truly converted. Not in an intellectual way, but in heart and spirit.
Thomas was not the only one who struggled with belief, with giving his heart over. Mary, Peter, all of them in fact needed SOMETHING to tip the scales in favor of believing in life over death, in the triumph of God's kingdom over the human one. And the good news is that what they needed was provided. God in God's love gave them what they needed, the presence of Jesus in His resurrected self so that they could hear and see and touch and be changed.
So what do we need to believe, to give our hearts? As we progress through this Easter season, maybe we too can LISTEN and LOOK and TOUCH the Living One in our midst. And then finding the Peace that only Jesus offers, we too can say with all assurance, "My Lord and my God!"