Today’s Scriptures: Lectionary selections from the Revised Common Lectionary Year C
Following the weeks of Lent and then Holy Week, our lives have a way of returning to normal after Easter. After Easter services we collectively release a sigh of contentment, comment on how nice everyone looked in their Easter finery and how beautiful the Easter lilies were – oh, and the ham was especially good. Then Monday comes and we resume our pre-Lenten habits and routine. It is as easy to drop the spiritual disciplines we took up as it is to drop the latest diet (it can start right after this dessert). The apostles did not have that luxury as they were given a new command by Jesus when he first met with them in the upper room a week later.
The disciples hiding behind locked doors fearing that they were the next targets of the Jews represented the powerlessness the believers must have felt during that time. In his ministry, Jesus talked about and demonstrated much power (as did the disciples when they were sent out in groups) through God. Yet, now that he had been crucified, did the power still exist? The removal of the leader did so much to shake the confidence of the believers. Faith may be strong, but when physical events demonstrate an (apparent) mastery over the message the faith proclaimed, it becomes increasingly harder to maintain the faith.
In a flash it all changes.
Despite the locked doors, Jesus is standing in their midst, showing them the wounds in his hands and on his side. THEN the disciples rejoiced. He blessed them and gave them the Holy Spirit with the command to go into the world preaching the Gospel. He gave them the authority of forgiving sins. This authority empowered the believers to defy the persecution and commands to stop preaching. The Acts passage has Peter and others called before the council which is reproaching them for their continued teaching.
Between the resurrection of Christ and the time before the council, the apostles went from being powerless believers whose faith was shaken to the core to being the powerful believers who challenged the authorities who sought to persecute them. The strength that came to them from the Holy Spirit continues with us today. As Christians we have the authority to speak up for what is right and wrong and to resist persecution for the belief we have in Christ Jesus.
We have to be careful about the Thomas story in the John passage. Before we stop to scapegoat Thomas for his lack of faith, we need to remember just a few verses before that Jesus appeared in the room and showed the disciples his wounds. They had all seen and THEN rejoiced. When Jesus comments about not seeing and believing, he is talking about us, not singling Thomas out from the other disciples. We are blessed because we continue to believe though the wounded Christ has never been in our presence. We are equally blessed to continue to receive the Holy Spirit and work out the will of God in the world around us.
As we move out of the Lenten and Easter times let us remember the gift and power that comes though the Holy Spirit and consider how quickly we want to give up the practices we grew during the last months.
Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org