Sunday, April 23, 2017


Sunday Reflection: Believing in what we do not see

This is a familiar story:

 Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."

When I first began to understand the Gospels (which was not the first time I read them, and is still not a
completed project), one of the parts that baffled me was John the Baptist getting people to commit to
someone who was not yet known-- Jesus.  How could anyone do that?

And yet we do. All the time. We commit to people we have never met (politicians, media figures,
religious leaders) that we really know almost nothing about, and to ideas we don't fully understand.
We just aren't very careful about these things. As an advocate, I know that we rarely argue someone into
believing something. Instead, they hear a story that rings true, or are inclined that way, or catch a tiny bit
of shimmering truth and fill in the rest through reason and heart. And that's how people came to Jesus, and
still do, through a story or inclination or something glimpsed. It helps, too, that we want to believe in
something big and moving and real, whether good or bad; we are constructed to desire that.

Sylvia Plath (pictured above), who was more smart than tragic, wrote this:

 I only know that a rook
Ordering its black feathers can so shine
As to seize my senses, haul
My eyelids up, and grant

A brief respite from fear
Of total neutrality.

So nice to be greeted with words from Sylvia Plath this morning. Thank you.
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