Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Doubting Thomas...

     I love Thomas.  His human need to see and touch the Lord resonates with something really true about the human condition.  We believe what we can see, what we can touch.  For this reason UFO’s remain the subject of speculation or silly jokes.  Attorneys search desperately for “proof”.  Science advances only when a hypothesis is successfully tested.  Human love, of all things, requires some sign – some concrete expression to establish its existence.  For this reason, Thomas is the biblical representative of the “show-me” school of love.  
     We believe that we are loved when someone acts like they love us. Husbands take out the garbage and bring home flowers on Valentine’s Day.  Wives put power tools under the Christmas tree and often relinquish control of the TV remote.  In the monastery, we have a hundred little ways to show love for one another.  Someone leaves a note of encouragement in our mailbox, or saves us a piece of our favorite dessert.  We lend a hand when someone seems overwhelmed by their work.  We pray for each other in illness or for success in public ministry.  Love is evidenced in a smile, an embrace or a listening heart.  It is made concrete when we make our presence at prayer a priority.  It is given shape and texture in the dish room and in the kitchen.  Love literally takes on flesh in community in a myriad of particular and very ordinary ways. 
     The real challenge comes when we feel unloved. Community can disappoint us.  We can feel unnoticed or forgotten.  The poison of envy or resentment can clog the arteries of the community heart.  Someone hurts us - consciously or unconsciously - and we are shocked by our vulnerability.  We can lose our bearings in community without the concrete assurance of love.  I suspect that is how Thomas felt when the others experienced the risen Lord.  It must have been a very long week between those two appearances.  “Why them, Lord?”  “Why didn’t you wait for me, Lord?”  “Don’t you love me, Lord?” Perhaps, he prayed harder than he ever had before.  Maybe those very prayers demonstrated more faith than that of the eleven who received the gift of his presence.  Poor Thomas needed to see the Lord to believe in a love stronger than death.   He needed to touch that broken body to be certain that he did not hope in vain.  I suspect Jesus came to him for that very reason.
     When we feel unloved by God or by the community or, more importantly, lose the healthy self-love that grounds us, it is then that the God of Jesus Christ shows us how deeply we are loved.  That love may comes in a Word during lectio, in a dream, in an unexpected kindness from someone we thought gave up on us, in an apology that was long overdue, in a new friend who sees something beautiful in us.  Jesus came back for Thomas and he will always come back for us.  May we open ourselves to be his love for one another this day and unto eternal life.

Blessings and love to you all...
- Sister Vicki