The Rev'd Carlos de la Torre
Christ Church, New Haven, Conn.
Second Sunday of Easter
April 8, 2018
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
In describing Jesus’ appearance to his disciples, the author of Saint John’s Gospel paints a vivid scene. It was evening, and it was the first day of the week. The doors of the house were locked for fear of the Jewish authorities. And there, in a dark locked room, Jesus appears to his disciples. In a room filled with fear and anxiety, Jesus makes his resurrection known to his disciples. In the midst of loneliness, darkness, and deep intimacy, our risen Lord reveals himself and brings forth peace to his disciples.
Imagine how the disciples must of felt at that very moment?
So far, the disciples have only witnessed our Lord’s capture, trial and violent death on the cross. Left scared and in fear of the authorities, the disciples have locked themselves in a dark room. In the middle of this dark period: filled with fear and loneliness, Jesus appears to them. Sharing with them one simple thing, his peace. Standing there, Jesus utters the words “Peace be with you.”
Jesus does not explain his resurrection. He does not tell his disciples what he’s been through. He does not give them a long speech or commandment. He simply offers them his peace. Amidst there fear and darkness our risen Lord simply offers his disciples peace.
See, the resurrection is not something Jesus can simply explain. It is not something we can simply explain. Rather, the resurrection is something we can only experience.
In a 2016 Guardian article, Fr Giles Fraser beautifully captures this challenging truth as he writes,
“The resurrection is not an argument...the resurrection is the name we give to the multiple ways we push back against the darkness.”
The resurrection of Christ does not seek to proof anything as much as it seeks to invite us towards something. The resurrection affirms what God in Christ has already done.
The resurrection invites us to accept that in Christ there is eternal life. It reminds us that even death is not the end. The darkness of death will not have the last word. The darkness of our lives: our pain and suffering, will not have the last word. Resurrection pushes against the darkness of this world. Resurrection is God’s invitation for us to walk as children of the light in the midst of the chaos of life. This was the invitation for the disciples, and this is our invitation as followers of Jesus.
In reading today’s Gospel, we should remember that Jesus’ resurrection has already taken place, prior to his appearance to the disciples. While the women shared the news of the empty tomb, the disciples, the men, did not believe that the resurrection had taken place. Unlike the women who showed up to the tomb with their oils and spices seeking to take care of the body of our Lord, the disciples were in hiding. Up to this point, the disciples did not believe in the resurrection because they had no experienced it, but now was the time for the disciples to experience the resurrection themselves.
And we’re told that “Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.” Which begs to ask:
“Where was Thomas?”
“Why was Thomas not in the room with the disciples?”
The answers to these questions are known to God alone but what we do know is that the disciples from Peter to John to Thomas, were all in mourning at the lost of their friend and Lord. So, while today’s Gospel is often attributed as the story of “Doubting Thomas,” we might just maybe change our perspective - even if just for this sermon. From understanding this passage as the story of “Doubting Thomas” to the story of “Mourning Thomas.”
See, it’s no accident that our risen Lord appears to his disciples in midst of deep loneliness, darkness, and fear. Our Lord’s resurrection is not simply a sign of God’s greatness and power over death, but an invitation to a life in Christ which proclaims that we too shall overcome the great evils of this world.
The resurrection of Jesus does not take place instead of death, but it takes place in the middle of death itself. In the hope and joy of Easter, we cannot forget that death has to happen in order for resurrection to take place.
The disciples were not hoping for resurrection. I’m sure this was not all on their mind, rather they were simply mourning: crying, shouting, and wailing at the lost of their best friend. While we know that Thomas was not with the other disciples, we can assume that he like the other disciples must of been in great pain and fear. We cannot deny that like all the followers of Jesus: the disciples, the women, and all those whom Jesus touched and healed, he too was deeply mourning the lost of his Lord.
While the disciples were in a state of mourning, Jesus appears to them. And Thomas, who was not there when Jesus appeared to the other disciples, could not believe what they were telling him.
Do you blame him?
Imagine that you had lost a loved one: the love of your life, a spouse or partner, a family member or a best friend, and in the middle of your mourning, your friends told you that they’ve come back from the dead.
Do you think your response would be any different from that of Thomas?
Don’t you think you too would have said something similar to Thomas? Who says “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."
Thomas’ answer is not necessarily the answer of someone who lacks faith, but the answer of someone who is wrapped up in their own pain and trauma.
It is the answer of someone who cannot fathom anything beyond death. It is the answer of someone who has not experienced the resurrection, so he cannot see anything beyond the moments of mourning, suffering, and pain.
During this Eastertide, God invites us to experience Christ’s resurrection in our own lives?
Might there be a relationship in your life that’s in need of peace, the peace that Christ offers his disciples? A relationship in need of reconciliation?
Might there be a dark and even a locked place in your heart and mind that’s in need of the presence of Christ?
Might you like Thomas, be in need of experiencing the risen Christ?
Thanks be to God, that Jesus asks Thomas to physically experience the resurrection. Thanks be to God, that Jesus invites us to experience the resurrection week after week in the Holy Sacrament of the Mass. Thanks be to God, that Jesus invites us to be resurrected with him in the darkest and loneliest moments of our lives. Thanks be to God, for Jesus who is our Lord and our God. Thanks be to God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.