The story of Thomas and his insistence on seeing the risen Christ for himself is one of my favorites. I’ve long believed that Thomas has been rather short changed. He wasn’t so much full of doubt as he was full of healthy reason. He didn’t have a couple thousand years of tradition to fall back on. This risen Christ stuff was brand new. I’d have insisted on seeing and touching those wounds for myself; any reasonable person would do the same.
I remember the first sermon I preached on this passage. I was fascinated by the fact that Jesus identified himself by his wounds, not by the experiences he shared with those gathered in that room. He held up his wounds. Back in my seminary days, I focused on each of us needing to look for Jesus in our own woundedness. I don’t know if it made a whole lot of sense to those who heard that sermon, but for me the idea of Jesus identifying himself through his wounds was a healing one.
But these days I am far less concerned about my own wounds than I am about the brokenness in the world. North Korea is making noises that sound a lot like threats of war. Oil spilled through a neighborhood in Arkansas. Fifty people died in an Afghan suicide bombing. Gun control remains an issue even after countless shootings. Monsanto continues to control food supplies. People remain in denial about global warming and climate change. The economy of the Eurozone continues to falter. This list could go on. We can all add a personal witness to suffering and brokenness to this list pulled from headline news.
But the wounds and the suffering are not really my point. I want to draw attention to how we respond. Thomas recognized Jesus when Jesus held up his wounds. He didn’t have to touch them to recognize Christ. Today, we need to touch the wounds of the world to recognize Christ. Christ is everywhere bleeding, needing us to respond. Most people don’t. We’ve all done it. We’ve walked past the homeless person as we pretend not to see. We distance ourselves from the troubles of our neighbors. We plug in our devices without questioning where the electricity comes from. We spray chemicals into the air without stopping to wonder what they do to the environment. We eat food without reading the ingredients. We turn the channel when unpleasant news comes on.
I say let’s do something different this Easter Season. Commit to responding to some broken, bleeding part of the world and pay attention to how the experience of touching wounds changes you.
RCL – Year C – Second Sunday of Easter – April 7, 2013
Psalm 118:14-29 or Psalm 150