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Sunday Devotion: 19 April 2020, Second Sunday of Easter

Sunday Devotions

Thomas and faith’s true chemistry

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Written by clergy and lay people across our Diocesan community, ‘Sunday Devotions’ is a column of short reflections based on a Lectionary reading of the day, suitable for small group discussion or personal use.

Main readings: Acts 2.14a, 22-32; Psalm 16; 1 Peter 1.1-12; John 20.19-31

Supplementary Readings: Psalm 114; Revelation 19.1-9; 2 Samuel 22.1-7, 47-51; Exodus 15.1b-13; Mark 16.1-8

‘But he [Thomas] 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.”’ (John 20.25b)

My father was a fine schoolmaster who came into his own when he performed as ‘Wizard Chiz’ at the annual school fete. Extraordinarily creative, he would demonstrate the miraculous realities of what we usually call ‘chemistry’. My father was also very knowledgeable about such things as the Periodic Table. Yet, it was sharing about chemistry’s wondrous mystery that really counted for him.

I recall this in reflecting on Thomas’ encounter with the resurrected Christ. For he approached Jesus like exploring science as mere practicality, consequently missing the mystery. Sadly, too many still approach God like this, seeking nailed-down ‘proofs’ that bolster misguided securities before we are willing to respond. This is the alarming commonality of both militant secularists and religious fundamentalists. Faith must indeed attend to reason, but its call is essentially an invitation to wonder and adventure.

As JK Rowling suggested in the Harry Potter series, living into faith and love are like becoming a true wizard. In today’s Gospel, Thomas acted, as we often do, like a Muggle. However, as Indian Christians especially will remind us, there is much more to Thomas. As a remarkable faith adventurer, Thomas went on to grasp, and share with others, the Resurrection’s true reality, as the transforming mystery of unconquerable love.

We, too, may be inclined to dwell on repeated doubts or affirmations of unnecessary details. Yet God’s invitation is to live out the mystery. This is life’s true chemistry.

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