Fr Peter Beck presided and preached. The Gospel reading was John 20:19-31.
Read on for sermon text and the service video.
It’s been one week since Easter, one week since the chaos and excitement, one week since the empty tomb, one week since our first “Alleluia. Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.” It’s one week after the resurrection and guess what the disciples are in the same place they were then. They are in the same room behind the same locked doors.
So, What difference has the empty tomb made? How has it changed them? Has it let them see themselves and their world differently? Has it done anything for them? It doesn’t look as if it’s made much difference. They are in the same house behind the same locked doors as a week ago. Not much has changed. It looks like they have traded a tomb for a house and a stone for locked doors.
How about you and me? Are we changed since last week or is life much the same? I reckon we all know about locked doors. God opens the tomb and rolls away the stone and we roll it back again. It seems God opens the tomb and declares forgiveness and we continue to live behind the locked doors of condemnation of self or others. God opens the tomb and defeats death but we still live as if death has the final word. God opens the tomb and offers new life but we lock the doors and live in the past with all its regrets and anxieties. God opens the tomb and declares we are loved and abundant life and we lock ourselves out of that love. Can you think of any locked doors in your life. These locked doors of our lives are not so much about what is going on around us, but what is happening within us: fear, anger, guilt, hurt, grief, the refusal to change. There are a thousand different locks on the doors of our life and, you know what? They are always locked from the inside.
I think that was what Thomas was struggling with when he said, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” That’s how he became known as Doubting Thomas. But Jesus doesn’t actually accuse him of doubting. What Jesus says to him is “Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” He might just as well have said that to the other disciples too. After all, one week after seeing Jesus’ hands and side they are still in the house behind locked doors. Every time we lock the doors of our house we don’t embrace the resurrected life of Christ
Just how much evidence do we need to believe that Christ is risen? How much to believe that life is stronger than death. Because that’s the heart of it isn’t it. Do I really want to believe that life is stronger than death, with all the implications that means for how I live my life?
Well I can believe in the Resurrection as an event. The real question for the disciples, for Thomas and for you and me is how is the resurrection changing us. Thomas’ unbelief is not in his question. He didn’t ask to see more than the other disciples saw a week earlier. His unbelief, and theirs, and ours, is in being stuck in the house with the doors locked. You see belief in Jesus’ resurrection is not a question of intellectual assent or agreement. It’s not about evidence or proof. It’s not about getting the right answer. Belief is more about how we live than about what we think.
The Resurrection was an event, yes. It is so much more than that. Resurrection is more a verb than a noun. What Thomas and the others and we ourselves discover, as the doors of our hearts are unlocked is that Resurrection is a way of being. It is a dynamic way of being and living. It is the lens through which we see the world, each other, and ourselves. Resurrection is the gift of God’s life and love to be experienced and lived. And it takes time and courage to grow into living and understanding this resurrection life as it moulds and changes us.
Living resurrection is not easy. It is a process we grow into over time. It is neither quick nor magical. Resurrection does not undo our past, fix our problems, or change the circumstances of our lives. It changes us, offers a way through our problems, and creates a future. Christ’s resurrected life inspires us with his spirit, invites us to unlock the doors, and sends us into the world. And it is the Mass which is the corner stone of our living into the resurrection way of living. Every time we celebrate the mass, God offers to unlock our doors. And as we receive the bread of life we can have the courage to say Amen, Yes!
So my friends, one week after Easter, is our life different? Where are we living? In the freedom and joy of resurrection or behind locked doors? What do we believe about Jesus’ resurrection? What doors have we locked? If you want to know what you believe, look at your life and how you live. Our beliefs guide our life and our life reveals our beliefs.
Resurrected people know that faith and life are messy. Resurrected people ask hard questions rather than settling for easy answers. They don’t have to figure it all out before saying their prayers, feeding the hungry, forgiving another, or loving their neighbour. They trust that what God believes about them is more important than what they believe about God. Resurrected people are willing to get out of the house. They unlock doors even when they do not know what is on the other side. They believe even if they don’t understand. They may never see or touch Jesus, but they live trusting that they have been seen and touched by him.
Prayer of surrender
God, I surrender myself to you and I ask you, put an end to my restlessness.
I give you my will,
I do not believe any longer that I can answer myself
What I am doing, and what is happening through me.
Lead me and show me your will.
I give you my thoughts
I do not believe that I am so intelligent that I can answer myself,
My whole life or other people.
Teach me to think your thoughts.
I give you my plans.
I do not believe any longer that my life finds meaning
In what I reach through my plans.
I entrust myself to your plan for you know me.
My anxiety about other people I give to you.
I do not believe any longer
That with my anxiety I can improve anything.
That remains with you. Why should I be anxious?
My anxiety about the power of others I give to you.
You were powerless before the mighty.
The mighty have fallen. You live.
My fear of my own failures I give to you.
I do not have to be a successful person
If I wish to be one blessed according to your will.
All insoluble questions, all discontent with myself
All my crammed hopes I give to you.
I give up running into locked doors and wait for you.
You will open them.
I give you my self. I belong to you, God.
You have me in your hand. I thank you.