“Then he spoke to Thomas,
‘Put your finger here;
look, here are my hands.
Give me your hand;
put it into my side.
Doubt no longer but believe.’
‘My Lord and my God!’”
I have spent the past few Easter Octave days with an inspiring group, people of all ages, mostly aged 30’s & 40’s, full of enthusiasm – literally (Greek & Latin) “inspired by and possessed by God.”
Our group numbered fifty, all priests, together for a time of friendship, retreat, prayer, conversation, laughter, food and drink, more laughter, and more food and drink and friendship.
The reason that this group has gathered every Easter week for 20 years is that we know we cannot live without the experience of Jesus Christ, risen, present and active among us.
Yes, we can survive. We can cope, exist, manage, endure and get through, but we cannot LIVE without this experience.
And like those first followers of Jesus in the days after the resurrection, it is too easy for us to revert to the old ways, fishing with the same old goals and tired techniques, when Jesus Christ is risen and a new thing is happening in our midst.
What’s the point ?
We need to be together to help each other to remember.
Two thousand years after the first experience of the resurrection of Jesus Christians make the same fatal mistake of reducing Jesus to a wise leader who provides sound ethical life-coaching.
Falling victim to this error most meeting minutes of Christian communities (dioceses, parishes, schools etc) reduce Christian faith to our structures (most often strictures), our plans and projects and buildings. We think that if we get all these things sorted then we will be more ready to experience God.
Of course not only is this not true but this idea is heresy since it denies the preference of God for working in the messiness, the confusion, the struggle and the sin of human lives.
Yes, the projects and plans the money-raising and buildings can be helpful, but most often these become obstacles to the lively and Christ-centred life that we see in the first three centuries after the resurrection.
I’m often inspired by recovery gatherings which remain uncompromising in their focus on the heart of their mission, depending only on God, and aware of the risk of building up an earthly kingdom.
There is a great little book often discussed these past few days. “From Christendom to Apostolic Mission” (You’ll read it in an hour and it may well renew your faith and even change your life.)
In one section the author describes the agenda and resources of the first disciples in the years after the resurrection:
“Our Agenda: To bring the Gospel of Christ to the world.
“Our resources: Bishops – eleven. Priests – Eleven, …Religious Orders – None. Seminarians – None. Seminaries – None. Christian believers – a few hundred. Countries with Christians in them – One. Church buildings – None. Schools and universities – None… Money – Very little… Influential contacts in high places – Next to none. Societal attitude toward us – Ignorant to hostile.
What’s the point ?
This is why when our group of fifty priests meet together each Easter Week we simply seek Christ, and we find Christ not when we share our achievements and successes, but when we are honest about our reality.
In short we gather to share our capacity to be loved by God, and therefore we experience love with each other.
What’s the point ?
Thomas gives us the method in today’s gospel. Thomas is not a doubter. He is a believer, the first adult Christian since he was willing to express his struggle, his inability to accept the presence of Jesus simply on the word of others. Thomas understood that we need to see and touch for ourselves before we can be adult Christians.
Let’s now help each other to live this.
I have been very privileged these past few days. Tomorrow you will receive the last Lent / Easter Week email.
I ask you to provide the material for this post simply by sending me an email firstname.lastname@example.org . Your reflection will be publsihed (without your name – just initials) Respond in one sentence to this question:
- Name one way in which you have become more aware of the presence and action of Jesus in your life during this Lent – Easter journey.
Take a moment to respond in an email now. Your responses will be a great encouragement to people around the globe who have walked these weeks with FFF.
Thank you for taking the time to do this – just a minute or two, sharing a sentence or two, to email@example.com