Believing is definitely not the same as knowing; it is deeper than that. We bump into our own quiet questions about the real meaning of our little lives and whether suffering is worth anything to and for anybody else. Believing is not a feeling either, just like human love, it goes beyond feelings. We can pray with our doubts, they are holy invitations. We can pray with our arrogance which moves us to think we should be able to figure everything out. We can pray with our desire to feel secure in what we absolutely know and how we often live beyond what we grasp tightly for security.
We hear in the First Reading today of how the little band of Jewish believers in Jesus came to allow His influence on them to form a life of prayer and good works. Slowly, they listened to the teachings and prayed with their Scriptures and began putting these two devotions into practical care-taking actions.
They remembered Jesus in the breaking and sharing of bread and within their sharing home-cooked meals. This sharing of prayer and the bread moved them to the sharing of their material goods. Community means the putting of gifts in common. All this was to continue how Jesus sided with the needy and distributed all His living and life for the poor and our poor world.
Others became influenced by their style of knowing their truth, their meaning and their living of both. As we pass colds and other sicknesses with each other, to the un-being of community, so we have the power to pass on the influence of Grace. Instead of coughing in the face of another, we can show our faces of faith and how we live with our doubts, fears, and hurts. The early apostles worked wonders and signs. We later apostles become wondrous signs by just living the quiet questions and how we deal with the breaking of the bread of our every day and often the breaking of our hearts.
The Gospel for this liturgy has a liturgical form to it. There is a gathering, more around fear than faith. They have locked themselves in and the world out. There is an Entrance Rite. Jesus comes into their midst of shame and doubt. There is a greeting of “peace”. There is a proclamation of the “Good News”, that the Father has sent Him into their midst. So this interchange, this inter-communion results in a second “Good News”, that they are sent out to be blessings in the world they had locked out.
Ah, yes, the second liturgy of the finding of Thomas. The Entrance Rite and Greeting of Peace are the same. The proclamation of the “Good News” is more personal. Thomas has a quite normal and usual human problem; he finds it hard to believe what he cannot see. The “Good News” is that Jesus embraces Thomas’ doubts and his person. Thomas is told that he is a believer, because he has seen. Remember, Jesus, in the very first chapter of John’s Gospel told the first two followers to “Come and see”. Through out the whole Gospel, “signs” were manifested so that some might see and believe, such as the Man Born Blind of chapter nine.
Jesus then gives the final benediction of this liturgy and of the original writing of John’s Gospel. He tells Thomas that those are blest who can believe without seeing. Two Sabbath liturgies sum up all of John’s presentation of what it actually means to come and see and believe and follow. As we hear in the First Reading today, Jesus will be seen again in the faces and faith of His followers. They are the new and living “signs” who bring His Light into the darkness of disbelief.
The liturgies to which we go are known commonly as “masses”. Some people believe that name refers to the large crowds attending, “the masses”, or those “amast”. The word really comes right from the Latin word meaning “to send”. Jesus met these ten amast in their fears and untombed them from their doubts and “sent” them after blessing them or breathing upon them. He meets us along our journeys and in our caves and tombs and especially at the Eucharistic Sending Gathering where Jesus is again sent to us in Word and Sacrament and then gracefully ushers us out to love and serve. A great way to go!
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His love is everlasting.” Ps. 118
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