St. Luke's Episcopal Church - Homily
Heidi Edson / 11 April, 2021
Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
It was the night of Jesus' Resurrection and the disciples have been locked in the Upper Room. They were afraid for their lives ever since Jesus' Crucifixion two days earlier. For whatever reason, Thomas, one of the disciples, was not with the others when Jesus appeared to the disciples in that Upper Room. We wonder where Thomas might have been and why wasn't he with the others?
That's a question the Gospel doesn't answer. But isn't it true that many of us can identify with Thomas who missed the "Resurrection" (Jesus!) in that Upper Room. These days in our own lives and in the lives of so many around us, we, too, may wonder if somehow we missed out due to the deaths, the sicknesses, the social isolation and a host of other things that has turned our lives upside down by the pandemic.
Thomas does eventually show up with the rest of the disciples and they tell him, "We have seen the Lord." What now is Thomas supposed to think? He was the one who risked his life (perhaps) by leaving the Upper Room; who watched his brothers and friends driven nearly mad with grief these past few days while Jesus was being tortured and killed.
Thomas may be thinking that his fellow disciples so desperately want Jesus to be alive, that they simply dreamed up this vision of a resurrected Jesus. And, who knows, Thomas wouldn't put it past Jesus, Himself to have appeared to all of the disciples as a ghost. After all, Jesus did stranger things while He was alive. But Thomas believes Jesus is no longer alive, and that, to deny this fact, helps no one.
Today, this Second Sunday of Easter is often referred by the Church as "Low Sunday." It received this title because, in "normal times" when we would physically gather for worship in our houses of worship, attendance is generally low in comparison to the Sunday of the Resurrection. On Easter Sunday the church would welcome extended family members and seasonal churchgoers along with the regular members.
Here we are on Zoom together on Low Sunday. And maybe we have come this morning less excited or enthused about Easter and Jesus' Resurrection event. Maybe things in our life and world have dampened our joy in the course of this week. We may even be wondering where was Jesus Monday through Saturday. Even the Gospels can't give us an answer. The Gospels don't record Jesus' whereabouts during the week days post-Resurrection.
Thomas, not taking the disciples' word about Jesus' Resurrection, comes off as being tough and skeptical. That's how the Gospels seem to portray this man. But Thomas, like the other disciples, loved Jesus. And Thomas is grieving deeply for Jesus and for what had happened to Him.
So when Thomas came back later that night, Thomas threw out a challenge: "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my fingers in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe." With these words, Thomas dares Jesus to come to them again. In truth, Thomas just wants to see Him. Ghost or vision or real person, it doesn't matter!
And Jesus did not disappoint! Jesus came to Thomas and the others on Low Sunday. Not missing a beat, Jesus goes 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" Jesus told Thomas.
And Jesus has come also to us, my friends, this Low Sunday. And Jesus says to us, "Do not doubt, but believe". What is interesting and revealing is that- even in Jesus' resurrected body- His wounds remained! Resurrection this day and week is possible for us on so many levels and in so many ways in our lives. But our wounds remain! The truth is that the scars we bear in life, as painful as they were in the making, have made us who we are today.
Another thing about Low Sunday in Church tradition was that the candidates for baptism (baptizands) from the Great Vigil of Easter received a white robe after their baptisms which they would wear all week long. On Low Sunday, however, they would take off their white robe and wear their regular clothes.
Today is the day when the anticipation and excitement of Easter Sunday are dimmed, and we get back to our daily routines. But today is also Easter Sunday, the Day of the Resurrection! This day was the Day of the Resurrection for Thomas who saw first-hand the Person (Jesus) whom he loved as both wounded and whole, alive and breathing.
And today, my friends, it is also our Resurrection Day. This is the day where the fancy Easter clothes are put away and now we have donned our regular clothes. What is left this week for us is our own wounded selves. Today like Thomas, we may need proof of the Resurrection. Where can we find this Resurrection?
We find Resurrection in one another. If we are brave enough to let our wounded selves be seen, we will find ourselves and one another together with the resurrected Jesus: both wounded and healed.
Thomas was a week late for the Easter celebration. But Thomas did show up! We, too, have showed up this Sunday. So where do we find ourselves this Low Sunday morning? There is time to come back to life; to reach out and touch the wounded people who live all around us. There is time to allow Jesus to reach out to you; to reach out to me- touching our own wounded and living souls.
Will we allow Jesus to touch us this day? Alleluia! Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!