#SeeTheMarks is the reflection for April 12, 2015. That “aha” moment when it all makes sense that Jesus is the Savior of the universe comes to all of us in one way or another. Is St. Thomas such a dolt that he doesn’t get it? Why does Jesus appear in a bodily form to the apostles and then to Thomas? Find out in “See the Marks”, the podcast for this week, the 2nd Sunday of Easter. Available on itunes and android. #MSAWordfortheDay #MySpiritualAdvisor #Sermon #Homily #Resurrection, #BodilyResurrection #HandsAndFeet #TheRealJesus
For My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 4/12/2015 The 2nd Sunday of Easter.
Please pause this audio and read the Gospel of John 20:19-31.
I have posted the final scene from the classic movie The Passion of the Christ on My Spiritual Advisor’s website, MySpiritualAdvisor.com. If you haven’t seen it or cannot recall it, I would invite you to take a look at it because after the horrendous beating and execution of our Lord on Good Friday, it is a relief to see the Lord resurrected. What we see in this clip from the movie is a totally restored Jesus. We see him stand, without clothing on, but not indiscreetly. What is important there is that we see the skin healed, restored to a better condition than it was prior to his death.
For dramatic effect, and it is very effective, we see the hand of Jesus full square in the picture. The hand has this gaping hole in it where the stakes had been used to nail Christ to the cross. To understand the passage from the Gospel of John for today, I think it is helpful to get a full dose of that image. The scene is very dramatic and jolting. It is the kind of thing that if Jesus were to appear in front of us today, we would have to overlook it to have a normal conversation with him. In fact, it might be a funny skit to have a comic do something on Jesus asking Thomas over and over, “are you staring at my hands again?”
This is indeed the famous “Doubting Thomas” passage. I am not sure that any one even uses the doubting Thomas analogy anymore, but, I noticed something that make the whole notion of the famous axiom a little unfair. It is kind of like when we talk about Ebenezer Scrooge. When we say someone is like Scrooge we mean that they are miserly and unkind. Dicken’s portrayal of Scrooge is actually of a man who sees the error of his miserly ways and becomes very generous. We don’t often remember the second part.
With doubting Thomas, we are told that the other disciples believed, but Thomas refused to believe unless he saw Jesus’ hands and feet—touched them even. Thomas is singled out for this seemingly outrageous request. Yet, when we read this passage, there are a couple of things we should note.
The story opens with Jesus appearing to the apostles through locked doors in a “beyond physics,” heavenly physical body that is transformed-spiritualized flesh. When he presents himself, he gives his Peace to the apostles and then the scripture says, “he showed them his hands and his feet.” So, here in the opening of the passage, we have a mind blowing occurrence of Jesus appearing through locked doors that would give anyone pause. Then, he shows the disciples his hands and feet so that they would know that it was the one they were mourning just days ago.
How do we know that THIS body is the one that hung on the Cross? How do we know that this is not just a “spiritualized” or computer generated being in front of us? How do we know that this is not just a figment of our imagination? We know because in his body, Jesus shows the marks of hanging on the Cross. It is essential to show that this body is the body of Christ, given for us, on the Cross. That is why the apostles believed that this is Jesus and not any of the other possibilities that God could have sent their way, like an angel, for another instance.
In the recounting of the story to Thomas, surely one of them said, “I saw his hands and his feet!” Thomas simply wanted to see for himself the testimony to the Resurrection. I think we all would like to, we all do.
In giving spiritual direction, I cannot tell you how many times I hear people give the “I want to see your hands and feet” directive to Christ. “I will not believe unless you show me some physical evidence,” is what we are saying. It usually comes in the form of “Lord, how could you let me have this illness? Lord, how could you let me lose my job? Lord, how can you allow these things to happen to me?”. All of the above are forms of “I will not believe unless I see the marks in his hands and feet.”
All of us who sit in the pews of Churches, go on retreats, pray to God on a regular basis, we have “seeing the marks” moments. The response of Jesus to Thomas and to us is not to deny us our request. In fact, Jesus honors the request. He wants Thomas to believe, receive the Holy Spirit and then go and convert large sections of India. The Syro-Malankar and Syro-Malabar Churches trace their heritage as Christians to the work of St. Thomas. Their church is as old or older than the founding of the church at Rome or any of the Churches such as the Melkites, the Copts, the Maronites or any of the other Churches in and around Jerusalem.
Some of us have had mystical experiences that have been our “seeing the marks” moments. Some of us have seen family, friends or neighbors who have had their lives turned around by their relationship with Christ as our “seeing the marks” moment. Some of us have rationally come to the conclusion that there must be a God and a God who sacrifices himself for his creation is the best kind of God as our “seeing the marks” moment. Some of us had parents who exemplified the love of God perfectly enough to show us Jesus Christ in our lives as our “seeing the marks” moment from the very beginning.
For all of us who have come to faith, there is that moment where we see the marks on the resurrected Lord’s hands and feet and realize that he is the God of the universe and that our trust ought to be in him. It is at these moments that we are blessed. We are granted with the opportunity to tap into his peace, a peace that gives us stability in the midst of life’s turbulent seas. We are given the Holy Spirit, like the apostles were given the Holy Spirit, so that the power of the living God who raises Jesus from the dead is in our lives to change lives.
Thomas went to India. James headed the Church in Jerusalem. Some accounts have Andrew going to Egypt or as far as Britain. Paul and Peter went to Rome among other places. They all had a mission to spread the word of God after they had come to believe by seeing the marks on his resurrected hands and feet.
Take a moment and reconnect with your “seeing the marks” moment, or moments. What was the moment you said, “this must be Jesus”? In saying so, did you realize that you were declaring him alive? Did you realize that you were declaring his heavenly physical body a reality? Did you realize that you were appropriating his peace for your life in this always troubled world? Did you realize you were given the Holy Spirit as power to live the life Jesus Christ is calling you to live? Did you realize that you were then called to go out and deliver the message to people who have not seen or believed?
If not, then now is your opportunity to have another “see the marks” moment. Breathe in the peace of Jesus. Breathe in the power of the Holy Spirit. Open your eyes and ears to the world around you. Where is there a need for others to see the hands and feet of Jesus around you? How are you going to present the Lord to them? How are you going to be peaceful and quietly powerful for them, to them and with them?
Take a moment and watch the video posted above this audio on the website at MySpiritualAdvisor.com and ask yourself, “Now that I have seen, where do I go now?” Amen.
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