Second Sunday of Eastertide, Low Sunday

Second Sunday of Eastertide, Low Sunday

Eastertide Sunday 2C, 24th April 2022

The theme of belief is very powerful and constant throughout John’s gospel summed up perhaps in its two uses at the very beginning, in the Prologue: firstly in regard to John the Baptist

He came as a witness, to bear witness to the light
so that everyone might believe through him

and then more directly regarding Jesus

to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to those who believed in his name

And here today at the very end of the gospel we hear the self-same tussle going on in Thomas – he has obviously believed in Jesus while Jesus was alive as he could see and touch him, and be touched by his words and actions, but now, now after sharing in the grief and fear of the other apostles and disciples at the death of Jesus he is still bereft and puzzled perhaps at their sudden joy – feeling more left out than ever. In one sense he hadn’t had closure, there’s no body to mourn, it’s a bit like a wake without a funeral: show me the body, alive or dead, and I’ll believe or rather celebrate the life and death of Jesus – this man who meant so much to me. Obviously the joy of the other disciples is not enough to convince him, to give him joy also. And there may be something in this for us also, for although our own joy is a powerful witness to the presence of Jesus, of the Son of God, of God in our lives, as is the breaking of the bread, and the sharing of our possessions with one another and indeed the sharing of our very lives in acts of kindness and self sacrifice and so on – something more is needed – the breath of the Spirit which the others have clearly received but Thomas has not, this presence of Christ to us in a manner which no longer requires his physical presence so that it’s his life which we mediate rather than our own. And this brings belief back into the picture for it’s a daily recommitment of ourselves that will be called for and yet in one sense is not of our making, for Christ is already at work in us to bring about this belief, that act of faith that gets us out of bed again to face an otherwise impossible day. What we see in John’s gospel is not so much a recipe for one type of faith but an illustration of the many ways faith is possible, of the many ways in which this cycle of belief can be entered, a cycle ultimately initiated and kept going, not by us, but by God, visible and invisible.