Sunday, April 3, 2016

The driving force

Every one of us, whether we are consciously aware of them or not, have certain principles, forces that drive our decision making. In chapter 20 of John's gospel we have the accounts of two individuals' encounters with the risen Christ.  Mary Magdalene and (today's gospel) Thomas.

Try and picture the two encounters. In the first with Mary Magdalene Jesus tells her "Don't hang on to me" The verb literally means to attach. In the second Jesus tells Thomas to "bring your finger...bring your hand".  The Greek uses the same verb for both "fere", bring or carry.  What's interesting to notice is what this implies about the location of Mary and Thomas.

The implication is that Mary is hanging on. And if Thomas has to bring his hand close, it must be at some distance. Both see Jesus. Mary's response is to grab on. Thomas's is to stay at a distance.  Thomas's response is understandable. What would our response be if we thought we were seeing a ghost, a reasonable assumption on Thomas's part.  But the Risen Lord is not a ghost. He is flesh and blood. He will eat with them to prove it. He tells Mary not to hold on because there one more step left in his journey, his ascension back to the Father. If we take a closer look, we can see that the foundational difference between the Response of Thomas and Mary is what drives them.

Thomas stands at a distance out of fear. His fear is born of  unbelief. We call him doubting Thomas. But again the Greek does not speak of doubt it calls it something much stronger. unbelief (apistos), the complete opposite of faith (pistos). Doubt is uncertainty. Unbelief is something more.

Mary, on the other hand, wants to hold on, to attach herself. Her's is a response born of love.

The question for us today is where do we stand in relation to Jesus. Are we Mary or are we Thomas? Think before you answer.  In our day to day life are we driven by our fears or are we driven by the theological virtues of faith, hope and love.  If we try to do the latter in the world today, there is a good chance that we are going to be called naive.  For myself, that's fine. I would rather be thought of as naive, than to be unbelieving.