“..the whole community remained faithful; the many miracles made a deep impression on them; they lived together & owned everything in common, sharing out among themselves according to what each one needed..” If you had read our 1st rdg from Acts of the Apostles a month ago, it would have sounded far fetched to say the least as life & faith sauntered on primarily self centredly & with a passing thought for a passing neighbour.. & now what a difference, as self distancing has paradoxically brought us together like never before..the Body of Christ, the Risen Christ, very well, much alive & active..
..in the yeast offered to a neighbour baked into hot cross buns & shared over the fence ; Lord have mercy ..in the exchange across a social distance of six eggs for a chunk of cheese.. ; Christ have mercy ..for a loaf of home baked bread left on a lone person's doorstep, taken blessed broken & shared with the little family with an appetite next door.. ; Lord have mercy
May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..three times a year we hold a formal Chapter in our Community where we gather to discuss key issues in our life & work; as it begins Superior chooses three of his Council to act as scrutators; to be responsible for voting process on issues where Superior needs to test discern view of the monastic family; when he appoints them they come forward to take an oath of secrecy “I take the oath” & as they do so they touch the crucifix. I wonder if Peter, acting superior in Upper Room in those first hours after Our Lords crucifixion & death was to have gone round room & invited each disciple to take oath & touch crucifix, how many would have been prepared to take it, I wonder? doors not just closed but locked bolted as eleven went into self-isolation, fearful not of a virus but of standing up & out as followers of Jesus Christ; social & religious distancing; were their colours of loyalty & commitment not nailed to a mast but to a crucifix?..a poor track record to date; Peters’ three denials, Judas’ betrayal, James & Johns’ eyeing best seats, & now Thomas. What a contrast to medical team on a Covid ICU ward where, with open doors & hearts, they work miracles in footsteps of Christ in loving self-sacrifice, touching into very heart of victims disease, & thereby meet Risen Christ, & the dying Christ in many many cases, in person “do this in memory of me”.. & pray where did Thomas go? why did he walk? how long was he away? did he keep rules on social distancing? what or who brought him back?..I’d like to think he walked before finally losing his patience big time; this, a defining moment for the eleven, privileged followers, 3yrs of close relationship with Our Lord, who’d taught encouraged rallied & forgiven in readiness for this moment, the life changing start of a spiritual reformation..“we were made for these times” remember the piece I shared two weeks ago?..& here they were shocked into lockdown, frightened rabbits caught in headlights, lost dazed bewildered; so Thomas walks out for fresh air, to think & to pray, to go back to ground zero, to all he had been taught by Jesus & believed in “do not be afraid; courage, I am with you; come [across the water], man of little faith, why did you doubt?..believe..come follow me” his crisis of faith faced, acknowledged brought in a confession of faith, self-reporting in his fear & vulnerability to his Lord; a Lord who, hours before, had faced & gone through his own doubts & crisis of faith alone “Father, take this cup of suffering from me” remember? Thomas finding himself, finding his real self, in good company, now comes back; a prodigal son to face scorn of his elder brothers “we have seen the Lord” they smirked..you as usual Thomas, broke ranks & missed out; angry slaves “all these years we have slaved for you” seekers of the best seats & full share of estate, remember?..for Thomas 8days of scorn, despised rejected..& then the Risen Christ appears a second time, offers peace to all of them, & then he calls Thomas forward; as the other ten await dressing down of all dressings down, Jesus himself undresses, opens his garment to display his wounded side & invites Thomas “put your finger here; give me your hand”; look listen touch; in Caravaggio’s “the incredulity of Thomas “ Jesus’ gentle hand leads Thomas’well worn dirty finger, not onto wound made by spear, but under flap of skin & into flesh..helping Thomas to draw out some of Jesus’ still yet & for a lifetime to come, intense pain, both physical & relational, in memory of those who inflicted it, Roman soldier & disowning disciples.. “doubt no longer but believe” doubting Thomas bless him; the ten elder brothers got their due reward, to see the Risen Christ, but it was to the doubtful faithful passionate Thomas that Jesus gave the cream & the milk, to see & to touch..with a total absence of PPE & handwash, would you put your finger into the side of a coronavirus sufferer..would you? or would you leave it to someone else’s beloved son or daughter, husband wife or daddy?.. doctors nurses ambulance drivers, carers, bus drivers, to “do this in memory of me”..& as they drive the bus, or nurse you back to life, or sit with you in your final moments, on behalf of your grieving loved ones, in their ministry of care & love in life & in faith, & voice the prayer of Thomas as they see Christ crucified in you.. “my Lord & my God” ..thanks be to God for the Thomas’s among us, who will touch the crucifix & make the commitment, to follow & to love Christ to death; “I take the oath..my Lord & my God”… [ 2nd Sun Easter YrA; Jn 20;19-31]