The Second Sunday of Easter — Thomas Sunday
Displaying their monumental wisdom, and their enduring veracity and applicability, the four canonical accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus, the Christ all give us an understanding of the initiatory role of women in the forming of our Christian faith communities as one or more women raced from the empty Easter tomb to calm the fearful dismay of the disciples.
Similarly, I believe, there is monumental wisdom and enduring veracity and applicability in the Gospel accounts’ exposure of the initial dismissive doubt — yes, doubt — among the men, Jesus’ “brothers.” Surely we can and should sympathize and place our own doubt on the table of consideration.
After all, how else would we react to news that he, whom we saw beaten and excruciatingly tortured and logically reported dead and buried (or entombed), had nonetheless overcome, had stamped down death and the worst that the seemingly all-mighty agents of the seemingly all-powerful Jewish Council (Sanhedrin) and global Roman Empire could muster.
In our experience at various stages of our lives, often in educational communities, you and I, like the apostolic Disciples, have encountered others’ doubt and harbored our own doubt concerning the Resurrection. This is to be expected in our educated commitment to worldly logic in pursuit of supposed truth. Indeed, where would we be from day to day, making our way in the world of science or otherwise, without “blessed” syllogisms, and deceptively glorified deductive and inductive reasoning.
So it is that, at the outset, we all understand the Gospel accounts of transitory doubt among the disciples. We may even sympathize with the cowering reaction of the men. But the over-arching point is this:
There is no enduring shame here. Our doubt is virtually inevitable, and it has brilliant company. We are “up there,” with Thomas (the Twin), later Saint Thomas, properly esteemed for his eventual, great profession of faith. We are “up there” with Simon Peter, later Saint Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, whose faith helped form the very foundation of the Church as we know it. We are “up there” with the doubting men who, though pledged to Christian faith, locked the doors of the Upper Room for fear of other men (Jews and Romans alike), and yet, later, evangelized bravely, energetically, and even unto death.
There is abundant consolation for us in those comparisons with the rich company of perplexed followers of Jesus. However, the test of the ephemeral nature of our doubt, be it ever so universal at the outset, has to do with whether that doubt endures and infects, cancelling out would-be ministry.
Do we find that same doubt when we examine the later lives of the saints (note the lower case indicating reference to more than those formally recognized, in our own evolving lives of daily overcoming and in the lives of others around us whom we admire — none of whom come to maturity without scars of holy healing.
For me, the truth of the Resurrection, the on-going triumph of Divine Deliverance, of Salvation in the Christ, has to do with the Triune Divinity, which transcends worldly logic of any sort and which emanates instead from Jesus’s “real presence,” not eaten, but eating with his apostolic Disciples and both motivating and joining the Disciples and us in his ministry of universal, unconditional Love
— The Rev. Dr. Wesley S. Williams Jr., K.St.J., is Washington National Cathedral Priest Scholar and Chaplain and member of the Dean’s Council and service rotas; he previously served as Bishop’s Dean/Sub-Dean for St. Thomas and St. John and vicar and assistant priest for congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands (U.S. and U.K.)