Sermons 2007
Thomas Doubter and Believer, Easter 2C, 15 April 2007. John 20: 19-31

Home | In the Beginning was the Word, Christmas Day, 25 December 2007, John 1:1-14 | What's Missing? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2007, Luke 2:1-20 | Joseph, the Forgotten One, Advent 4A, 23 December 2007, Matthew 1:18-25 | Come with Joy, Advent 3A, 16 December 2007, Matthew 11:2-11 | Darkness or Light? Advent 1A, 2 December 2007, Matthew 24:37-44 | What Kind of King is He? Proper 29C, 25 November 2007, Luke 23:35-43 | Predictions and the Horseman of the Apocalypse, Proper 28C, 18 Nov 2007, Luke 31:5-19 | Just passing through? Proper 27C , 11 November 2007, Luke 20:20-38 | Not like others? Proper 25C, 28 October 2007, Luke 18:9-14 | "We are bold to say", Proper 24C, 21 October 2007, Luke 18:1-8a | "The ten lepers", Proper 23C, 14 October 2007, Luke 17:11-19 | Proper 22C and Holy Baptism, 7 October 2007 | A taste of cool water, Proper 21C, 30 September 2007, Luke 16:19-31 | We hear what we want to hear, Proper 20C, 23 September 2007, Luke 16:1-13 | "Lost -- but found!" Proper 19C, 16 September 2007, Luke 15:1-10 | "Who is coming to dinner?" Proper 17C, 2 September 2007, Luke 14:1, 7-14 | Doors and narrow gates, Proper 16C, 26 August 2007, Luke 13:22-30 | "Fire to the earth", Proper 15C, 19 August 2007, Luke 12:49-56 | "Do not be afraid, little flock', Proper 14C, 12 August 2007, Luke 12:32-40 | "How much is enough?" Proper 13C , 5 August 2007, Luke 12:13-21 | "Lord, teach us to pray" Proper 12C, 29 July 2007, Luke 11:1-13 | "The Better Part?" Proper 11C, 22 July 2007, Luke 10:38-42 | The Good Samaritan -- the Summary of the Law" Proper 10C, 15 July 2007, Luke 10:25-37 | "Travel Light!" Proper 9C, 8 July 2007, Luke 10:1-12, 16-20 | "Independence Day" Proper 8C, 1 July 2007, Luke 9:51-62 | "Three Questions", Proper 7C, 24 Jun 2007, Luke 9:18-24 | "In or Out?" Proper 6C, 17 June 2007, Luke 7:36-50 | "On Grace", Proper 5C, 10 June 2007, Luke 7:11-17 | Trinity C, 3 June 2007 | Pentecost C, 27 May 2007 | "Unity and Diversity" Easter 7C, 20 May 2007, John 17:20-26 | "Come, Holy Spirit, Come" Easter 6C, 13 May 2007, John 14:23-29 | "What is this thing called love?" Easter 5C, 6 May 2007, John 13:31-35 | "Numbers and Sheep", Easter 4C, 29 April 2007, John 10:22-30 | Virginia Tech, Easter 3C, 22 April 2007 Revelation 6:8-10 | Thomas Doubter and Believer, Easter 2C, 15 April 2007. John 20: 19-31 | ""Why do you look for the living among the dead?" Easter Sunday, 8 April 2007, Luke 24:1-10 | Good Friday 6 April 2007 | Maundy Thursday 5 April 2007 | Why are we not surprised? Palm/Passion Sunday C, 1 April 2007, Luke 22:39-23:50 | Party or Pout? Lent 4C, 18 March 2007, Luke 15:11-32 | To Stand on the Mountaintop, Lent 3C, 11 March 2007, Exodus 3:1-15 | "Ways Not Taken", Lent 2C, 4 March 2007. Luke 13:22-35 | "Liminal Thresholds and Lintels", Lent 1C, 25 February 2007, Luke 4:1-13 | Ash Wednesday Meditation 2007 | "Transfiguration and Transformation, Epiphany Last C, 18 February 2007, Luke 9:28-36 | "Weal and Woe", Epiphany 6C, 11 February 2007, Luke 6:17-26 | "Who, me?" Epiphany 5C, 4 February 2007, Luke 5:1-11 | "Filled with rage!" Epiphany 4C, 28 January 2007, Luke 4:21-32 | "The Spirit of the Lord is upon us," Epiphany 3C, 21 January 2007, Luke 4:14-21 | "Weddings and Miracles," Epiphany 2C, 14 January 2007, John 2:1-11 | Schism and Epiphany, Epiphany 1C, 7 Dec 2007, Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Easter 2C 2007 John 20:19-31

Many of us can identify with Saint Thomas the Doubter. I sometimes think of him as the first Episcopalian. He is certainly one who asks questions and seeks truth as well as fact in Saint John’s gospel. The whole matter of the relationship between truth and fact is one of the things sitting at the heart of this Gospel passage.

Along with Peter, James, and John and Judas Iscariot, Thomas is one of the disciples we know something about. There are five lists of disciples in the four gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, and Thomas appears in all of them. But it is in the Gospel according to Saint John, that we are given the most complete portrait of Thomas the Disciple of our Lord, one of the Twelve.

Thomas was zealous, brave, inquisitive, and at one important time in his life, very skeptical. Thomas refused to accept the other disciples’ report of the Resurrection of Jesus, demanding physical proof. Because of the Gospel passage for today, Thomas was called Doubting Thomas, part of our every day vernacular usage – we’ve all heard it.!

But a little doubt is a good thing. The famous Jewish novelist Isaac Bashevis Singer argued that “Doubt is part of all religion. All the religious thinkers were doubters” Centuries earlier the Philosopher and Essayist Sir Francis Bacon wrote that “If a man begin with certainties, he will end in doubt; but if he will begin with doubts, he will end in certainties.” And an observation from Albert Einstein: “While certainty is of value, the important thing is not to stop questioning.” And it is in this light that I prefer to think of Thomas, not as doubting Thomas, but as Saint Thomas the Questioner.

But Thomas wasn’t always a questioner. He seems to have followed Jesus without question during those years when the small band was trudging up and down the dusty, hilly roads of Palestine.

When Lazarus was dead, Jesus announced his intention of returning to Judea again. Jesus and all the disciples knew that to do that was to go into harm’s way. Some of the disciples tried to talk Jesus out of it. They reminded Jesus that he had almost been stoned to death the last time he was in that part of the country. The disciples might well have refused to follow Jesus – for fear that to go with Jesus to Jerusalem or even near it at Bethany would be to go to their deaths also.

Then one lonely voice speaks up. It is Thomas. At this point it is Thomas who emerges as the courageous leader among the disciples. Wait a minute, he says. This is our leader. We go where he goes. We cannot and we will not let him go alone. “Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” “ Thomas was ready to go to death with Jesus.
That’s what true courage is, that despite our fears, we summon up the courage for the task at hand.

The second major appearance we have of Saint Thomas is in the gospel passage that we often read for the burial office. It is beautiful and powerful, packed with theological import and significance. And it is this particular passage that we see Saint Thomas begin to emerge as the Questioner more clearly.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
And Jesus said to Thomas, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

And so we come to the passage for today. The other disciples were cowering in the house behind locked doors. We wonder where Thomas was, but no matter. Thomas was also a realist in facing up to things and he knew that Jesus was dead. Really dead. So he could not accept what people whom he may well by now have regarded as cringing cowards were saying. It may have seemed like group hysteria to him. And so he asked for physical proof.

There is a sort of uncompromising honesty about Thomas. He would not say he understood when he did not. Neither would he say he believed when he could not. It is doubt like that which in the end arrives at certainty.

Thomas’ other great virtue was that when he was convinced, he went whole hog. There was no halfway house for him. “My Lord and my God!” he cries out when he sees the marks of the crucifixion on the Risen Christ.

Like us, Thomas aired his doubts and asked his questions in order to become sure. No mental acrobatics about it. And when he was sure, his surrender was complete.

Following Pentecost, the tradition tells us that Thomas spent the rest of his life as a missionary to India, where he was martyred, killed by a spear in his side like the one in the side of his Lord and his God whom he was willing to follow to the death. The year was 72AD. When the first Portuguese explorers arrived at Mylapore, India, in 1522 AD, almost 15 centuries later, they found a tomb said to be that of Saint Thomas the Questioner.


Drawn in part from Synthesis and InterNet Sources