A story of Thomas, FOMO, Resurrection & being The Body
Missing out is never easy –whether it’s by accident, -something happens when you’re not there – or events conspire against you, or by design, a somewhat inevitable situation
Sometime’s it’s as minor as your team scoring when you leave the room to make a cup of tea or get a beer,
Or it might be not making it to a loved one’s side quickly enough,
Or just looking the other way when a celebrity walks past you & your friends in the street.
Thomas must have felt a bit like he’d missed out in our gospel reading today –
I always feel rather sorry for Thomas –he seems to have gone down in history as the one who doubted – Doubting Thomas – and yet that doesn’t seem such a terribly fair description to be landed with. I think he probably reacted just about the same as any of us would do given similar circumstances
The other disciples had seen & talked with Jesus –they’d been in the room , and seen his wounds and spoken with him, He’d blessed them and breathed the Spirit on them.
Thomas, for some reason – we’re not told what, wasn’t there.
And so when they got together again you can start to imagine the grump he was in
So many emotions –the unfairness of it, the isolation, the feeling of being the last one to know anything and the bottom of the pile
So he snaps –unless I SEE him, and his wounds, I will not believe.
This isn’t the voice of a doubter is it?
It’s the voice of someone who feels left out and on the edge
Who feels something momentous has passed him by and he’s frankly quite cross about it
And so, he’s not going to just take their word for it.
It’s all or nothing –
A week later –when doubtless, (!) Thomas has had plenty time to stew on it all, Jesus appears to them again, and he goes straight to Thomas and shows him his wounds – shows him exactly what he needed & wanted to see & touch.
Thomas needed to be drawn in to the group again, to have the same experience to feel that he was important.
By coming to him specifically, Jesus does that, he doesn’t expect him just to pick up what’s happening from those around him,
HE knows what Thomas needs and he gives that to him.
He brings him back into the group, into the community with their shared experiences and life.
How often do we feel like this?
How often are we aware of others around us feeling like this?
perhaps it’s in our church community, and people feeling somehow that those in the “centre” have some sort of understanding or knowledge that they don’t,
Or maybe it’s us who feel that way
Part of building the Kingdom is about drawing people in, who feel they are on the edges,
Sharing our own thoughts & feelings, so that others don’t come away with the impression we have it all sewn up somehow –
This is often where small groups like the home groups & lent groups are important and useful.
Living the resurrection life and building the kingdom means looking out for those on the edges and bringing them in to a full part of the community.
It’s addressing the needs such as Thomas had. Its meeting people where they are.
The story of Thomas says something else to us too,
It reminds us that we’re all physical human beings –
The resurrection itself emphasises this,
If the physical side of our life is not important -why do we need bodily resurrection?
But here we have Jesus, living once more, in a resurrection body.
A physical touchable body.
Body & spirit are both important –
Greek philosophy held that the body wasn’t – it was just a hindrance and something that got in the way of true spirituality
– but by rising again in bodily form Jesus showed that wasn’t true in God’s way of thinking.
He knew before he died that this connection with the physical was important –
His followers needed tangible things
At the Passover meal, itself a physical reminder of something that happened years & years ago, a tenet of the Jewish faith,
Jesus instituted the lords supper, communion, Eucharist, Mass..
He gave his followers something real physical and tangible to use and work with to remember, to feed on.
The classic definition of a sacrament is the visible sign of invisible grace –its more than just a symbol, but it conveys on the outside something of the working inside.
When Thomas touched Jesus, it was seeing & feeling his Master made him believe – & it cemented in him something that was internal, it made what he believed real, and grounded it –
It was proof, but something more.
The Eucharist is a memorial –in remembrance – but it is more than just that – it is a reminder our faith is grounded in the physical,
It is faith creating and faith building.
John Wesley who was an Anglican priest and became the founder of the Methodist church, believed that the Eucharist was what he called a “ converting ordinance”
In other words, it created faith, it was an encounter in the physical elements with the Risen Christ that faith in people,
Rather like Thomas’s physical encounter with the Risen Jesus
Something visible on the outside, triggered & fed something internal.
Later when Jesus left the disciples, that physical presence he’d had with them had grown faith in them,
The Eucharist is also about community
Thomas was angry because he felt left out – he felt excluded and marginalised – until he encountered the risen Christ for himself and was drawn back into the community
When we eat together, and encounter the Risen Jesus, we draw each other, back into community –
though we are many we are one body because we all share in one bread.
When we invite others to this table, we draw them in too and offer the chance for faith to grow in them, and for them to be part of our community.
And the Eucharist is about celebration – its remembering what Jesus did, his death *and* his resurrection,
It’s about looking forward to the great Heavenly banquet and celebrating the life we have in Christ now.
We have something concrete to remember, to draw us in, to feed us and teach us and with which to celebrate –
Like Thomas -we need something physical, because we are physical beings.
In the risen Christ we see confirmation that our physical natures are celebrated and affirmed, we see community and inclusion made central to our common life and in the Eucharist we celebrate now, we have all these things combined.
Therefore let us keep the feast –Alleluia!