Here we are on top of poor old “Doubting Thomas” again. What strikes me is not that Thomas doubted, but that Jesus honored his doubt and met him where he was with an invitation to intimacy and not condemnation. What is even more striking is that it is in moments of great doubt where the resurrected Jesus met almost everyone. Who was it that did not doubt? The women in Mark’s gospel met the good news of the resurrection in the moment of their grief filled doubt about who would roll away the stone. Matthew says that the disciples went to Galilee to meet him and, that even as they worshiped him, they also doubted. Yet they were met with his invitation to go forth in his name to all nations. Luke describes the entire band of disciples as disbelieving the resurrection witness of Mary and the other women, and immediately tells the story of the two on the road to Emaus who (for grief and doubt?) could not recognize Jesus until he invited them into the communion of breaking bread. And that is followed just as quickly by his appearance to the whole frightened and doubting band during which he invited them to touch, see and share in a meal. The same is true in John’s accounts with Jesus inviting them to also receive his peace and a portion of his spirit as Elisha received a portion of Elijah’s spirit.
I think that is important. Jesus met each and all of his followers in their doubt, however it was expressed. He never chastised, well maybe a little but gently. He always invited them to explore their own doubts through greater touching, feeling, seeing and sharing in the most intimate of ways in what can only be understood as the most holy of Holy Communion. In many ways, our faith rests on their testimony, but is that really enough? Do we also need that personal and holy invitation to communion with the risen Christ? Is that a part of what inspires all the spiritual hunger about us that drives some to search out a god they can be close to and others to deny gods of any kind? For me, it is the sacramental presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist that satisfies, but I suspect that even the immediacy of the bread and wine is too remote and mysterious for many. Perhaps the key to this can be found in the prayer we traditionally assign to Thursday in Easter Week:
“Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith…”
If we cannot learn to show it forth, it’s not likely to be a faith that will resolve many doubts, illuminate hope or reveal the resurrected Christ.