Written on: April 24, 2019
Thank you to Sister Ceil Cosgrove, GNSH for her reflection on the second Sunday of Easter. Sister Ceil is a counselor and therapist, former member of GNSH Leadership. Seen here with an eagle she met in Alaska while visiting our former missions.
Psalm 118: 2-4, 13-15, 22-24
Revelation 1: 9-11a, 12-13, 17-19
John 20: 19-31 The Gospel for Doubters– the gift of knowing that it is okay, human, understood, accepted, and blessed, to doubt.
This second Sunday of Easter’s Gospel (John 20:19-31) contains the story of Thomas the Apostle who, for all time, became “Doubting Thomas.” This title so often or, perhaps, exclusively became a pejorative accusation.
How often have you heard or read this Gospel thinking that it was not good that he doubted and, perhaps, not good if we, too, doubt?
I am thinking there is a different lesson to be learned from this gospel.
Thomas had the courage to say he doubted. Obviously, that might not have been easily accepted by those who were caught up in the excitement, reassurance and comfort of having experienced Jesus’ presence in their midst. I would guess they also felt some fear. Can you imagine their response to his lack of belief when they were so captivated, so in awe, not quite able to know what to do with such a powerful experience? Some may have judged Thomas, others may have felt sorry for him. Can we imagine how he must have felt not to have been there with the others – alone, lonely, confused, scared, and bewildered?
Who was Jesus in all of this? We can read it as being harsh with Thomas; “Have you believed because you have seen? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe”.
Or was Jesus being so gentle, “Peace be with you,” and so thoughtful and loving in coming back; not to prove anything to Thomas or to reprimand him but to help him?
If He was truly human, Jesus must have known doubt– so He understood. I can’t imagine that He didn’t doubt his Father, His friends and Himself at times. He must have known frightening and painful doubt during His experience in the Garden.
We do doubt.
Actually, belief in Jesus and His story is pretty challenging if you risk thinking about it but we do believe -most or some of the time- and that is not entirely up to us but to a miracle of grace and our choice to be vulnerable in believing.
The Gospel, I suspect, is telling us that Jesus will be here for us as well. I don’t expect that we will get to place our fingers in His side but we can count on Jesus knowing what we need in order to accept, to believe. Jesus wants us to know that we, like Thomas, are loved enough to be sought out in our doubting.
Doubt can lead to incredible belief.
Featured photo: Matt/Unsplash