Blogging Towards Sunday, May 1, 2011
Peace, or “Shalom” in Hebrew was the traditional greeting in Jesus’ day. Yet repeated in this text, it takes on a deeper meaning. It’s a peace that reassures, picks up, rebuilds, resurrects. It’s the echo and fulfillment of the teaching of Jesus : “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do no let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) We too long for peace today – in the pain and suffering of our individual lives, in the injustice of our world, in the continuing wars and the ongoing efforts of many to put their lives back together after tornadoes, earthquakes and nuclear disasters. The peace that Jesus gives is not just a “hello” but a force that changes, liberates and shapes every aspect of life.
This peace is different than anything we can broker, because it’s given by Jesus. It’s associated with relationships, life-in-community, the gift of the Spirit of God to all for encouragement, wisdom and the power to love as God loves. We often remember only the doubt of Thomas in the text, and yet it goes beyond him. He represents doubt not just in the miracle of the resurrection, but doubt in general that Jesus keeps his word. He isn’t bad. His questioning isn’t heretical. He finds himself in an impasse because of his disbelief, his refusal to step out into faith without first seeing with physical eyes. He seems to limit faith to what he can quantify with his senses. Paradoxically the resurrection affirms that God is beyond what we can sense, bigger than what we can understand, loves us in a way that is foreign to our relational syntax. Thomas eventually comes to faith through touch. It’s when he’s touched by Jesus that his eyes are opened and he discovers that he cannot understand it. He can only go with it. Resurrection can’t just be understood, it has to first be lived.
John ends his gospel story with Jesus talking about faith and sight. It’s not sight that’s required for faith, but rather faith that’s necessary for sight.
How do you long to see anew today? Maybe in regards to God’s presence in our world, broken, damaged or painful relationships?; maybe the way in which you see yourself? How do you need this life-encompassing “peace” today? How do we as a church community?