Reflection 041920 Sunday, April, 19, 2020
1 Peter 1:3-9/ John 20:19-31
Believing Without Seeing
Have you ever persevered hardship thanks to the hope and faith for a solution or a relief? When I think about this topic and read today’s gospel story about the disciples meeting the resurrected Jesus, there is scene from my favorite TV show Doctor Who that pops into my head. In this scene, the Doctor and his companion Clara are facing an android race that harvests human body parts to form their bodies. The Doctor disappears, and Clara is left alone to fend for herself. Even in her terror, Clara bravely tries to bluff her way through the imminent threat of death. She tries to tell them that they are in trouble because the Doctor always comes to her rescue, and extends her hand behind her expecting for the Doctor to miraculously appear and take her hand. In that moment, her eyes look like she has 95% faith in the Doctor with 5% of fear and doubt; “I trust him, but what if he doesn’t come on time?” I had a similar experience when I was in Montreal searching for a church position. My study permit was about to expire, so I needed a job and a work permit. After 6 months, I was like Clara in that scene; 95 % of confidence that God will send me a job before my study permit expires, with a 5% fear and doubt. Kimberley United Church offered me a job in the nick of time. Praise be to God! I think a lot of us are similar when it comes to faith, with maybe 95% of faith and 5% of fear and doubt.
In today’s gospel story, we meet the disciples of Jesus hiding behind closed doors in fear and despair since their teacher died. Since Jesus was executed as a traitor to the Roman empire, his disciples were not safe either. Don’t we feel like the first disciples these days behind closed doors and impatiently waiting for the pandemic to pass? When Jesus appeared in front of them and wished them peace, their fear turned to a sense of assurance. They saw the resurrected Jesus and could believe that he was alive indeed. Thomas was not with the others when Jesus came to them for the first time and couldn’t believe them. Then he came to Thomas too. After seeing him in person and his wounds, he finally believed. The first disciples believed in the resurrected Christ and his identity as God’s Chosen One. If we can see the evidence of something, it is easy to believe it. But What about believing in something without seeing and experiencing? Jesus ends by saying to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
How trusting are you? I have learned to trust my husband. Also, when my best friend gives me medical information, I believe him because I trust his medical knowledge as a medical doctor. A lot of Christians have believed that women or homosexuals were not worthy children of God because they trusted their ministers who were sexist or homophobic. I think you believe my theological judgment when I say that, in God’s kingdom, we are equally loved and valued. Can we trust someone enough to blindly believe what they say or do? This is what faith is about; believing without seeing.
We haven’t experienced Jesus first-hand. We learned about him from teachings and writings. Yet, we believe that he was God in human form. We trust him enough to accept his teachings and strive to live by them. The Book of First Peter was written for an audience that hadn’t experienced Jesus first-hand, just like us. That is why the author encourages his audience to live in Easter hope through their trials, which was plenty in Early Christianity. Often, they also had to hide behind closed doors and worship in secret. We don’t get persecuted for our faith, but our lives are full of trials too. Sometimes, we get so discouraged by whatever life throws at us that we are tempted to give up or become cynical. Those are the times when we should remember the Easter hope that the first disciples experienced. If we are disturbed by the spread of COVID-19, if we are frustrated at those who won’t heed the social isolation rules, if we are worried about the suffering of others, let us remember what the first disciples went through after the death of Jesus. Let us look to the invisible divine and let our faith help us through hard times. Easter hope is about trusting God and staying positive in the darkness. Let us trust in God’s goodness even in our darkest hours, be joyful and thankful, and share God’s light with others.