The Gospel reading on the Thursday of the Easter Octave has me thinking about Thomas. Admittedly I used to read about Thomas doubting the news of Jesus’ Resurrection and think…how could he doubt? After all he heard? After all he had been taught and told? Jesus knew, however, this issue was not solely an issue for Thomas.
In Luke 24 (the Gospel reading for Thursday of Easter Octave):
“Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see…”
“Touch me and see.” He invited all of his disciples to do this. “Doubting” Thomas had the same struggles as the rest; he had just missed the first few visits by Jesus to the disciples. We are more familiar with Sunday’s Gospel from John:
“Jesus said to him, ‘Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.’”
It is appropriate for Divine Mercy Sunday because we are in need of His mercy…for our doubts and our questions. And yet this year, I am connecting more with Thomas, and all of Jesus’ followers (who don’t get as bad of a reputation as poor Thomas). I have struggled recently with wanting to SEE. This is more about everyday life than in my personal faith or spirituality. It is about our world and people.
Does 2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we walk by faith, not by sight” apply to the people and things around us, as well as God? I think this is an issue for many, as we hear lots of things like “actions speak louder than words” and “if you want to know someone’s mind, listen to their words. if you want to know their heart, watch their actions.” If people talk the talk, we want them to walk the walk. I believe this is fair. No one likes empty words or, worse, actions that counter what we hear or are promised.
This can be true at our workplaces. If management or administration say they agree things are important and changes need to be made, but fail to make them, is it OK to be frustrated or should we rely on Corinthians? If people speak words of welcoming or love or appreciation, but then do not follow-through, show up, or take any action to demonstrate that, are we then supposed to look to Corinthians also? Where does faith begin and end? Is it solely with God and Jesus or does it extend into all parts of life?
Yet, at the same time, related to Jesus, what more could we want? He did exactly what he promised. One of my favorite songs our choir sang on Easter Sunday said “He could have called 10,000 angels. To destroy the world and set him free.” Yes, He could of. But He fulfilled the prophesy and sacrificed Himself for us. We were not saved by words. We were saved by actions. By a real baby born in a real manger to a real woman. By a real crucifixion with real nails driven through flesh into a real cross. He really died. He really rose. He took action, not just gave us words and inspiring speeches.
I struggle and it is unfair to doubt, like Thomas, and want to “touch and see” in life. It is unfair to want action rather than words. I know we are challenged to lay down our lives also – to forgive when we are wronged, to love the people who hurt us, to serve and have compassion. It is hard though when you seek to build a life on rock with a solid foundation, but when it feels you are living on shifting sands, unstable and unsteady. But I also want a life built on the Rock, with faith and God at the base and I know He wants me to find patience and understanding and, ultimately, faith in other people.
Maybe that is where I am going wrong in all this – the difference between “belief” and “faith.” Perhaps it is how I see myself and my lack of knowing that I have worth in God’s eyes. This lack of self-esteem has me putting too much emphasis on others, rather than having faith in how God sees me. Is our value based on what someone says, or does? If we stop looking to others to validate our concerns, take action, and stand with us, will we be freer to appreciate the things around us? But trusting people’s intentions is really hard. Having faith in someone or something, when everything I see and feel is running counter, will not be a struggle I solve today or tomorrow. Like Thomas and disciplines, I know I will continue to want to “touch and see.” I will continue to look at James who said “Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works…You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.”
As you can now see by this blog, I can keep going in this circle all day. Jude 1:22 says, “have mercy on those who doubt.” Thankfully we had Divine Mercy Sunday…because I really need it.