John 20: 24-25
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "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."
We so crave certainty. We want to know. We want to know the truth. We want to know the whole truth. And we want to know it now!
We want to know that everything is going to be OK. We want to bring people hope, now, even as we fear being with other people, even people we love.
"Declaring 'Peace be with you' in the time of COVID-19" (Photo by Jackson Simmer on Unsplash)
But it is interesting to hear Jesus's response to Thomas's demand for certainty.
Jesus first greeted Thomas and the others with "Peace be with you." He then turned and challenges Thomas. "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe," Jesus said.
Thomas immediately exclaims "My Lord and My God!" to which Jesus responds, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."
The issue is not having doubts. We all have doubts, we all face uncertainty. Uncertainty is a product of life. We do not know what will happen, and yet we are constantly expected to make decisions which effect ourselves and others all the time. If anything, doubt is simply a rational reaction to the fact of uncertainty. This is true in "normal" times. It is most certainly true in COVID-19 times!
The issue for Jesus seems to be that faith, not certain knowledge, is the most effective response to doubt, to uncertainty. It faith as a response to God's promises, it is faith as an act of love of and trust in God, that allows us to love each other and to do good in our world.
To accept Jesus's offer of "Peace" must be an act of faith, especially in times of uncertainty, like those that Thomas and the other disciples faced in the days following Jesus's death, and like those we face today.
It is through faith that we can exclaim, with Thomas, "My Lord and my God." And it is through faith that we can turn to others in our present world and say, with firm belief, because of faith, "Peace be with you."
It is through faith that we can carry a bright happy face balloon and, at the same time, wear a face mask, as we attempt to bring hope in a time of fear.
Unless I See
It’s not unreasonable
to want to know
to touch and see
to bring the mind to rest
to quell the fear
But to demand
“unless I see”
is to miss
the very point
of what we are now called to be
It is not doubt
that measures us
and being loved
and loving in response
It is not certainty
that is our goal
but great good news
and of grace