“A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20.26-28)
A simple story
Once there was a group of frogs who lived in a dark deep well – filthy and murky, no light, hardly any food. They suffered a lot. But they thought that this is all there is to life. Until a Bird, a beautiful Bird, came down the well and announced to them that outside there is another world full of air and sun and light and flowers and snow and stars..
The Chief Frog stood up and commented : “Did you hear? The world which the Bird is speaking about is heaven – all the good frogs, those who obey the laws will go there.”
But some of the frogs croaked loudly, protesting that this was not the message of the Bird. The Bird had said that this world exists now, that it is possible to live otherwise now.
A philosopher-frog, after analyzing the whole situation, arrived at this sensible conclusion :”What the Bird really meant is that we can improve this world, we can build a better world. If only we enhance the light system, put in air conditioning, acquire better food, we would fulfill all our dreams…”
“No!” protested heavily some of the frogs-who-had-believed in the Good News of the Bird. “This world exists. It can be ours. We can enjoy it. It is not a question of just improving. It is a whole new creation. The Bird has actually seen it. ”
Many frogs got mad at these few believers. They taunted them, they laughed at them, they threatened them prison for their stubbornness. Until… the frogs-who-believed made a leap. They jumped out of the dark, murky well and, sure enough, there was …. the sun and the stars, and the flowers and the trees, and the wind and the clouds, and the moon and the snow…
Yes Life CAN be otherwise!
Life is dead serious
A simple story which is the heart of the Gospel today. Thomas is a practical man. He is a reasonable man. He has seen Jesus dead on a cross. He does not believe in ghosts and spirits. Life is dead serious. All of us know that life is serious business. All of us carry our own problems. All of us feel threatened and many times are afraid when situations are against us. Life is what you make it. And sometimes people around you do not help you to make it better. Besides, money always seems to be lacking. It is a rat race indeed.
So we are cautious of good news. Very suspicious when someone offers us something free. “Let me read the small print!” Life has taught us to be wary. Many face life as if it is a skirmish. A struggle for survival. Closed in our small bourgeois life. Protected. Thomas can be our name. “Unless I see and unless I put my finger and my hand… I will not believe!”
And Jesus understands. He knows human nature. He knows us very well. What does He do? He comes again. He passes through the closed walls of our skepticism . And He greets us with one word : “Peace be with you!” He does not condemn, He does not judge. He does not denounce or disparage Thomas. He loves Thomas. He loves us. He invites Thomas to go beyond his small mind. Life is bigger than these two centimeters of our brain. God can never be boxed in a small tiny closet. God is bigger. Nicer. Larger. More wonderful. “Do not doubt but believe!”
The Good News
The Good News is even more compelling. Jesus Christ is an event TODAY. He came out of the tomb victorious over all our problems, over all our difficulties. He conquered death and hence TODAY He has the power to destroy all our deaths. Grafted to Him, it is possible to live a victorious life. A life no longer dominated but fear and anxiety. Because in His death He took upon himself all our filth and all our muck and rising up, he opened up this well in which we have put ourselves in – this well of worry, of instant gratification, of stupid pleasures, of apprehension and stress. We also can rise TODAY. In Him we can live a new life. A new existence. A new marriage. No longer surviving but enjoying.
It is a question of believing. John heard it : “Do not be afraid! I am the First and the Last and the Living one. I have the keys of Death” (Revelations 1). The early Christians lived it – the Acts of the Apostles speak so clearly; see Acts 5. The Psalmist himself proclaims : The Lord is God and He has given us light (Psalm 118). Yes He can and He wants to create today a new person out of you, out of me.
The tight-rope walking Blondin was walking a rope across Niagara Falls. After crossing to the other side the crowds cheered him on. Blondin asked the crowd “Do you believe I can walk across with a wheel barrow.” The crowds cheered “We believe! We believe!” Blondin replied. “Do you believe I can do it with a man inside the barrow?” At this the crowd broke in to an uproar and with passion they shouted “WE BELIEVE ! WE BELIEVE!” At this Blondin asked “Who then will volunteer to be that man?” The crowd became silent. No one volunteered!
If we are going to believe Jesus and what He says as being true then we need to be prepared to hop in HIS Barrow .. and trust our life fully to him. Do not worry, He is not a fake. He will never deceive you. Let us trust Him all the way….
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.