Many Other Signs
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the ‘many other signs’ which Jesus worked, and which the evangelist refers to in today’s gospel, were known to us? How beautiful it would be to be able to turn to these other words which he spoke, and to these other deeds which he carried out, to help us deal with the many issues and situations we face in the world today. It brings to mind that saying what would Jesus have said when we are pressed into dealing with issues on which he is silent in the gospels. But would it really help? Isn’t it fair enough to say that the moral issues of today, even if we regard them as infinitely more complex than those of 1st century Palestine, nevertheless still involve matters of conscience and choice, and on these we know that Jesus certainly made his views known.
So perhaps the gospel today, offers us something more than simply an answer to a particular problem. The questions that we all ask about life and about its purpose, loomed just as largely back then as they do now. The irrationality of death, the meaning of suffering, the anger which we feel when a loved one is suddenly and without reason snatched away from us, are still the cause of distress and upset which for many leave them bereft and lost. The sign of today’s gospel, with the reaction of Thomas, is one which speaks universally of the place which our faith in the resurrection has in addressing these questions and doubts.
We all of us, I’m sure, have at some time, had a moment of doubt. Our faith may have been tried and tested in circumstances which we could never have imagined. In these moments we may well have responded with an angry outburst, and I’m sure that Thomas too was similarly sharp when he responded to the other disciples’ words. Here he was in the midst of his grief and desolation and instead of comfort and consolation he hears words which seem nonsensical and having said his piece, off he goes. Eight days later the disciples gather again along with Thomas. He is with them now, perhaps calmed by their company, perhaps grateful for their presence as they are able to share with him his concerns and his uncertainties. Into their presence comes the Risen Jesus, offering once more his peace before speaking directly to Thomas.
Do we recognise something here? Is there here a sign to which we can respond? Think on. A community gathers every week; in its presence are those with questions, those with uncertainties, those with doubts. People who are bereaved, people who have problems and other concerns for their welfare and for the world. Into this community comes Jesus with his words of peace and he show us his wounds as he is among us, part of our world with all its difficulties and problems, yet speaking directly to each one of us. Every week on the eighth day, this gathering comes together and in to it is poured the gifts of the Spirit to comfort and console and to help us to overcome the problems we are living with.
The wounds of the risen Lord show us that the world remains a place in which the kingdom is not yet realised, because the world is a place that so often rejects the love that Jesus came to offer. And this raises our concerns for the world, yet into the world comes Christ and we as a sign, one of the many other signs which the evangelist spoke of, we are called to gather and to meet each week to celebrate his presence. Thomas’s doubt turns to faith. May our faith be the sign which says to the world: we believe. Let us meet on the eighth day and rejoice.