Thomas was not a bad man nor was he a mediocre disciple. I believe that sometimes we can read today’s gospel (John 20:19-31) and think to ourselves, “Tsk, tsk if only you didn’t doubt and had more faith Thomas.” But Thomas did have faith and he did have a great love for our Lord. We need to remember that it was Thomas who said, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” when Jesus decided to go to his friend Lazarus despite the fact that the authorities were seeking to kill him. These are not the words of a half-hearted disciple. Thomas had great faith, he had great love for our Lord but he also had a broken heart. The crucifixion and all of sin’s “No!” that it contained had broken Thomas’ heart. All of Thomas’ love for the Lord, his hope and faith in the Lord had been broken by the wood of the cross.
Thomas’ heart was broken. So, when the other ten announced the Lord as risen (the Easter gospel); Thomas replied with his own “creed” (which is in essence a “non-creed”). “Unless I see … unless I put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” This is the “non-creed” not of a man who is bad or mediocre but rather generous and loving yet profoundly and deeply broken-hearted.
There are many non-creeds in our world today proclaimed by people who are not bad people or even mediocre (quite the contrary) but people who are broken, who are hurting. And there is a danger to the non-creed because it is limiting, it does close one in on one-self. Life is limited and because of this isolation occurs – leading to further violence and further pain.
But our Lord is risen. In his divine mercy he comes to the disciples (even through the locked doors of their fear and isolation), he comes to Thomas and in the tenderest way reproaches Thomas and his non-creed. In fact, in response to Thomas’ non-creed it could be said that our Lord speaks his own creed, “Peace be with you.” As disciples we live in the ever-newness of the creed of our risen Lord. In all times and all seasons, we cling and hold fast to it. This is what we do and who we are as Church, we remain faithful. “Peace be with you.”
Today, Shawn (a young man being received into the Catholic Church at the Center) through your baptism, confirmation, first communion and entrance into the Church step into this living creed of our risen Lord. This is a new day, an Easter day for you! We celebrate with you and we thank you because today you remind us that we are each only allotted so many Easters in our lives. We are each given only so many days and opportunities to encounter the risen Lord and to step away from the non-creeds and into the fullness of our Lord’s peace!
In a special way I want to say a word to your sponsors and your Catholic friends because in our meetings you have said, time and time again, that it is they who have been the strongest influence in your desire to join the Church. Dear friends, please recognize this. You have lived the creed for Shawn – the peace that only our Lord can give – through your friendship, through your love, through your faith, through your being family. The creed we profess is not meant to be a static formula but a lived reality. Let us all recognize this.
Our risen Lord gathers his family of disciples together and he speaks to our hearts.
“Peace be with you.”