When we travel these days (let’s hope we are given another chance), we no longer rush from one tourist landmark to another. Instead, we search for places which offer a unique flavour, a local breakfast perhaps to titillate our other senses. Here we linger, not just to see but to smell, taste, hear and feel our travel. It is no longer sightseeing but experience seeking. It is not that travel has changed, but we as human bodies have.
“Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.” (Today’s Gospel)
And so, it is with our faith life too. It cannot remain static as a belief, a religion. The world continues to move on, and our human selves have progressed alongside, with new philosophies in the ever-changing world. We are a modern-day ‘Thomas’; catechism classes are hardly stimulating our youth and adults can no longer stimulate growth by debating faith on intellectual knowledge alone. Intellectual knowledge is important. It forms the foundation for the modern-day Thomas who needs to add to this foundation lived faith experiences to travel this world today.
Lived faith experiences are real-life encounters with the Risen Christ. Like Thomas, we seek conviction and so we need to put our finger into his wounds. Such encounters are never by the sense of sight, but a combination of all our sensory powers to feel and know that the presence of the Risen Christ is intimate in the reality of our personal world. When we arrive at that, we reach Thomas’ point of conviction to soulfully exclaim, “My Lord, and my God”.
Easter is this season to encounter the Risen Christ. When Lent was about coming home and repentance, Easter is about reaching out and witnessing. Repentance is about life transforming, witnessing is testifying to life transformed. Lent must become Easter, as death is raised to life. This is a transition our faith life must make, if not we will be stuck at the foot of the cross. The readings of the Easter season are all about the disciples encountering the Risen Christ. We cannot leave these in history but to bring them into our present, into the centre of events happening to us in daily life.
“He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side.”
Our contemplative discipline must continue throughout this season. The Risen Christ is always inviting us to put our finger into his wounds, “Give me your hand; put it into my side.” The Risen Christ wants us to encounter him. So, how can we ‘see’, how can we feel? How can we experience the Risen Christ in our daily routines?
Peace is the fruit of such encounters. Peace the inner calm that takes us through difficult periods in life. Peace the world cannot give. Peace that helps our unbelief. Peace that leaves us so much joy and conviction that we want to share it. Peace.
Easter is a season when suffering bears fruit, when faith blossoms, when it becomes a lived experience. It is a season to bear witness, to become intentional disciples. Bearing witness is not a terrible responsibility, not being saddled with a cross. It comes not out of suffering but from peace. Lent has left a dying grain of wheat in each of us, and Easter is the field for our faith to flourish into a new dimension. When we bear witness the budding grain will turn into a plentiful harvest.
We must find this peace to believe. It can all start with a local breakfast when you sense, feel, and know that the Risen Christ is at the table eating with you.
2nd Sunday of Easter