..a cracking 1st rdg full not just of Easter joy but the spirit & power of Pentecost as early Christian community grew out of/ beyond confines of the upper room, in numbers & in passion..listen to the ripples of excitement faith & eager anticipation.. ..with only one amber light of cautious disappointment .. ”no one else ever dared to join them” ..how good are we at welcoming the first time enquirer or the penitent returnee?..the afraid & the hesitant?..those 2nd or 3rd generation disciples soured by a Church which exchanged its understanding of passion & joy for one of passion & suffering..losing its faith in the Resurrection & containing itself defensively in a structure of dutiful compliance.. we are profoundly blessed to have so many who have dared to join us..& live on here to tell their Easter story..
“..the numbers who came increased steadily “..came & came to believe.. ; Lord have mercy “..so many signs & worked among the people” ..here & now.. ; Christ have mercy “..bringing their sick & those tormented..& all of them..all of them..were cured..” ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
“..the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were for fear of the Jews..” & “no one else ever dared to join them” why do you think Thomas was out when the Risen Christ appeared among them? where had he gone? one of gifts of Holy Spirit is wonder.. I wonder if he had walked out on them thoroughly browned off by their defensive self protectionism; navel gazing “poor me” glass half empty disciples, when they had enjoyed a 3yr special relationship with Jesus; front line followers, chosen schooled & encouraged, justifiably criticised at times, yet constantly affirmed, forgiven time & time again; maybe someone you know very well; prodigal sons/daughters “you are with me always & all I have is yours” & instead of celebrating a resurrection, they are locked into a prison of self defence, mourning a death & their own spiritual illness, bereft of hope & ignorant of all they had been blessed to see & experience..& Thomas perhaps was afraid of contracting their malaise & disease, so he walked out to find some fresh air; time & space to reflect on what had tragically happened & yet hopefully might still come to be ..to hold on passionately to who he had become..& in his absence, Jesus appears to the fearful ten..& to us this evg/morning in familiar if disappointing company..”peace be with you” Risen Christ holds nothing back, peace for each of us, on one condition; that we acknowledge it as divine gift “my peace I give you” a peace the world cannot give..& extraordinarily he commissions them & us, this our motley crew of misfits “so I am sending you” ..& he breathed on them..a Pentecost moment for us 33 days early this year “receive the Holy Spirit” the breath of God; breath “pneuma” pneumatic..gentle breath of the divine that, like pneumatic drill, can break up concrete, can break open the coldest most terrified of hearts, & re-invigorate them with the blood of the new covenant..us sent out to forgive sins, to risk the surprising & the unexpected rather than defend the party line..last weekend after atrocities in Sri Lanka, Cardinal Archbishop Ranjith called for their government to identify the attackers “ & punish them mercilessly because only animals can behave like that” a frightened upper room Cardinal who we pray may meet the Risen Christ in next few days in a moment of recognition & self realisation..finding himself the father of the prodigal..then Thomas returns to the self righteous ten “we have seen the Lord” cheshire cats with bowl of milk & all the sweeter because you missed him..self defensively he voices his terms & conditions for belief, so like you & I..conditional discipleship..8days later Jesus returns..yet another 8days locked like frightened rabbits into their upper room; & for their indifference?..no punishment only compassion “peace be with you” & he calls Thomas forward “put your finger here; give me your hand, put it into my side; doubt no longer but believe” Caravaggio paints & prays the gospel story inspired by wonder & imagination..Jesus leads Thomas’ index finger not just onto the wound of spear on his side, but under flap of skin & into wound..the pain of self sacrifice reawakened in Jesus, the pain of conditional belief by a doubting Thomas reawakening the intimacy between them..”my Lord & my God!” the fickle followers get the milk..like their spirituality, semi-skilled non fattening folk on their strict religious diet ; the doubting Thomas’ get the cream & milk, blue top..to see & to touch ..doubt, to learn to live with the question mark instead of obsessively seeking right answer when real answer is the question mark, is richly rewarded..& then, those who have not yet seen & yet believe, are surprisingly given parity of esteem..a wonderful truly remarkable gospel & its spirituality of equality..doubting Thomas, the defensive disciples, a passionate Mary Magdalen, an embittered Cardinal, & you & I..the gift of Easter in embryo..to receive the words “peace be with you” & then to be invited forward in few moments, to touch into his wounds on palm of your hand & be fed with his flesh, mind blowing/heart opening.. for each/for all who search for truth “so that believing you may have life through through his name”..thank you for coming to this our own upper room..& because you chose to be here, the Risen Christ in you appears among us.. [2nd Sun Easter Yr C; Jn 20;19-31]