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Posts Tagged ‘Thomas’


John 21:1-14: It Was Already Dawn

Friday, April 13, 2018

James Tissot: Jesus Appears on the Shore

In this second week of Eastertide, we continue to find new life in the Easter miracle of our resurrection as we re-visit the Gospel readings for the Easter Octave. Today we return to the Sea of Tiberius with Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James, John and two other disciples. Discouraged, frightened, needing employment, or wanting to go back to familiar rhythms and themes of life . . . we do not know why these followers return to the waters of Galilee. But we do know that this is where they encounter the risen Christ. It was already dawn, John tells us.

This imagery reminds us that when we believe our night of suffering and striving is endless, we – like these disciples – will look up from draining work to discover that it is already dawn. Perhaps we – like these disciples – meet Jesus when we are at our lowest. Perhaps we are the two unnamed disciples who take up nets and oars with our comrades to shove out into deep waters to see how we might survive. Perhaps we believe our lives have brought us disappointment again. First, there was the death of Jesus, and now we have been fishing through the night yet have caught nothing.  Unexpectedly, a stranger calls out to us from the shoreline, urging us to cast our nets once more . . . but on the starboard side of the boat.

This is how it happened . . . When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. (NABRE)

How could this possibly matter, we wonder? What difference can it make to change the side of the boat? We have strained ourselves to the limit and we have no more strength.

They did what he said. All of a sudden there were so many fish in it, they weren’t strong enough to pull it in. (MSG)

With this, Peter leaps from the boat and we question his actions as he flails his way to the shoreline; yet it is there – when the dawn is upon us – we realize that Christ has been with us all along.

When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”  (NABRE)

We see that Jesus is already baking fish on the open fire, but we add our own fish from the new catch, finally understanding that we are to join Christ in his work. A memory flickers through our minds of the 3 fish and 5 loaves that Jesus divided so that five thousand might eat. And as we settle around the warmth of the fire to take in this meal, we realize our work, we hear Christ’s call. Despite our discomfort with the unfamiliar, we know that we must return to Jerusalem to continue the discipleship Jesus has begun in us.

Regardless of our fatigue, we lean into our nets again. In spite of deep waters and dark nights, we leap from our small boat to thrash ashore so that we might share a meal with Christ. Although we have thought our suffering and fears went unnoticed, Christ has been with us, waiting with baked fish and bread to erase our exhaustion and nourish our hope. And suddenly the night slips away . . . . almost without our noticing . . . for it is already dawn.


When we compare other translations with the ones in this post, we begin to understand that despite the length of the night and the frustration of the work, Christ invites us to join him in our own renewal.

To read Matthew’s accounting of how Jesus feeds 5000, read Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:31-34, Luke 9:12-17 or John 6:1-14. Matthew (15:32-39) and Mark (8:1-9) also describe the feeding of 4000. 

Images from: https://www.dominicanajournal.org/burning-coals-for-breakfast/ and https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/cooking-steckerlfisch-over-an-open-fire-high-res-stock-photography/56298235

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John 20:24-31: Glory, Part XIII – DoubtThomas

Friday, July 31, 2015

As we begin to conclude our thoughts on God’s glory, we look at a reflection written on August 22, 2007 and adapted today as a Favorite.

We hear this story often on the Sunday after Easter, when the pews that had been overflowing the Sunday before now stand strangely vacant.  I always think it sad that more of us do not hear this story, because there is a bit of Thomas in each of us.   

We call Thomas, Doubting, but we might better think of him as Questioning. Thomas insists on proof, much like a child, much like each of us. Thomas asks for the real presence of God, as do many children and as do many of us. Thomas refuses to follow blindly, as might all of us. Before we bring Jesus to others – as we are asked to do – we must argue, probe, doubt and finally believe genuinely as Thomas does. We must say, as Thomas does, “My Lord and my God!”

We would be false apostles as those we read about in Revelation 2:2-3“I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate the wicked; you have tested those who call themselves apostles and discovered that they are imposters.  Moreover, you have endured and have suffered for my name, and you have not grown weary.”  The writer of Revelation, John of Patmos, also cautions that we are to repent, warning that the light of our lampstand will be extinguished if we lose the love we had at first.  We must realize who and what we are, we must repent and repair, forgive and ask forgiveness, heal and be healed, question and discuss.  We must seek so that and we will ultimately find God’s eternal, healing and inexplicable glory.

Using a search engine, we look for images of Doubting Thomas and study this story as we consider the questions we present to God . . . and the answers we receive. 

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John 20: Glory, Part XI – Emptinessmiracles-happen

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Knowing that through humility, emptiness, and service, our journey leads us more quickly to the kingdom of God we seek.

Today’s lesson on Glory: Mary Magdalene and the other apostles discover an empty tomb and at first believe that Jesus has left them behind. Through many “wonders and signs,” Jesus assures them of his very real presence.

Each Easter we spend time with this chapter of John’s Gospel, reliving the passage Jesus’ followers make from emptiness to fulfillment. It is very like the same passage we make each time we traverse a difficult patch of our lives. We might re-read these verses when we find ourselves in the emptiness of betrayal, denial or abandonment. They hold stories we will want to re-live and re-tell.

mary-magdaleneThe Empty TombMary Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. We might better manage our disappointments, fears and troubles if we remember that fulfillment follows this emptiness.

The Appearance to Mary of MagdalaMary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?  We might better experience peace for the hatred we encounter in the world if we leave ourselves open to the visits of angels.

The Appearance to the Disciples On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, in fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you”. We might better discover unity in our divisions if we look for Christ who is always in our midst.

doubtiing thomas

Caravaggio: Doubting Thomas

ThomasThomas was not with them when Jesus came and so he said to the disciples, I will not believe”. Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you”. Thomas said, “My Lord and my God!” We might better understand our role as branch to Jesus’ vine if we accept Jesus’ love with humility.

Signs and WondersNow Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name. We might better hold firm in our love of Christ if we humble ourselves before the many signs and wonders we experience in our lives.

We might compare varying versions of John 20 and connect these stories to the hills in valleys in our own lives. Search this blog for reflections from John 20 and re-think the Easter miracle. 

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Easter Thursday 2014


Reubens: The Incredulity of Thomas

Reubens: The Incredulity of Thomas

Easter is an eight day celebration beginning on Easter Sunday, running through the Easter Octave and ending on the Second Sunday of Easter. This tradition reflects the joy the early apostles felt as they experienced the new presence of the Risen Christ. Jesus offers us this same experience today. Wishing all those who follow the Noontimes a graced and peace-filled Easter Thursday.

April 24, 2014 – John 20:24-29

Our culture wants hard facts and raw numbers. It sees humans as targets for marketing rather than reflections of God’s hope in a troubled world. The science of polling and focus groups is our newest religion while belief in miracles, acting in faith, and loving in hope are qualities that are seldom valued.

Today the Apostle Thomas brings us the opportunity to measure what is truly important. Today we are given a chance to determine how well we live out the message of the Gospel. We are asked to look at how well we have become God’s message of hope to the world.

Go to the April 4, 2013 Noontime reflection on the theology of the Apostle Thomas as expressed in his words “My Lord and my God,” on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2013/04/04/my-lord-and-my-god/

 

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Second Sunday of Easter, April 7, 2013 – John 21:1-14

Sunrise on the Sea of Galilee

Sunrise on the Sea of Galilee

Looking for the Lord

Jesus continues to appear to his disciples, encouraging them to join him in the work of kingdom building.  Still mystified by how they will fulfill this mission, they return to the profession they know . . . to their boats, their nets, and the Sea of Tiberias.  It is here that we find Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons John and James, and two others.  They have been fishing all night . . . and they have caught nothing.

Dawn arrives and they must be wondering what they are to do next.

When they made the decision to follow Jesus they had left their work as fishermen behind them, not questioning how they would earn a living.  They had followed the Teacher for several years until that sudden ending when they had last gone up to Jerusalem for Passover.  Jesus has returned, risen, wounded, yet whole, and he has visited with them, shared bread with them, told them they need fear nothing.  He has given them his blessing and God’s peace; yet they are uncertain what to do next in this new life of following the risen Christ so they have turned to their former occupation; but this once familiar work is proving fruitless.

They must be questioning all that has happened to them in the last several years.

We, like the apostles, will find ourselves casting nets into familiar seas yet coming up empty.

We, like the disciples, will return to places and relationships we once took for granted searching for strength yet finding little.

We, like all of Christ’s followers, will encounter the Christ just when and where we least expect to find him.

Let us spend some time today watching and waiting in Easter joy.  Let us carry our worries and fears to the risen Christ.  And let us look for the risen Lord in every detail of all that we do in his name today and all days.

In this Second Week of Easter we will examine our lives as Easter People.  Tomorrow, recognizing Jesus . . .

For some interesting facts about the Sea of Galilee/Tiberias today, go to: http://apinchofsalt-sonnleitner.blogspot.com/2010/07/week-30-sea-of-galilee.html or  http://www.this-is-galilee.com/sea-of-galilee.html or http://www.seetheholyland.net/sea-of-galilee-article-israeloutside-jerusalem/  or http://www.atlastours.net/holyland/sea_of_galilee.html 

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Easter Saturday, April 6, 2013 – Luke 24:33-49

Rembrandt: Christ at Emmaus

Rembrandt: Christ at Emmaus

You are Witnesses

So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem . . .

In the moment that Cleopas and his companion realize that they have been journeying with Jesus, they rise from the supper table to return to Jerusalem.  The place that a short time before had symbolized disappointment, defeat and danger now is the focus of all their hopes.  They must return to tell the other disciples what has occurred on the road to Emmaus.

So must we tell others about the Easter story as we place all our hope in Christ.

They found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”  Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way . . .

The Emmaus disciples rejoice with the disciples who had stayed behind in Jerusalem; they celebrate the reality that the Christ is still with them.

So must we rejoice as we celebrate with Christ.

While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you”.  But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost.

It is difficult to ask our reason to bow to the miracle before them.  A few short days from now Thomas will stand before them insisting on hard evidence that Jesus has returned.  He must see and touch before he will believe; yet Jesus invites offers Thomas the evidence he needs in order to believe.

So might we be startled and terrified; so might we believe.

Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that is it myself.  Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have”.

Rather than preach to us, Jesus talks with us.  He never ceases to tell us in every way he can that he understands our circumstances and our emotions.

So might we be troubled with fear and doubt; so might we touch, see and trust.

While they were still incredulous for joy, and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.

Jesus still shares a meal with his friends just as he has done so often before.  He demonstrates undeniably that he is real for a phantasm cannot eat and drink and laugh with them.

So might we be amazed and incredulous; so might we share a familiar and intimate meal with Christ.

Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures . . .

The Teacher never misses an opportunity to instruct them again on the Law of Love and the newness of God’s Kingdom.  The disciples allow themselves to be open to The Word.

So might we listen for the voice of Jesus; so might we be open to The Word.

Then he said to them, “You are witnesses of these things . . . but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high. 

Jesus requires affirmation from his followers.  He also counsels them on the next steps they must take in their newly found work of Kingdom-building.

So are we called to be witnesses.

So are we clothed with power from on high.

So are we sisters and brothers of Christ.

So are we Children of the Living God.

So are we loved both deeply and well.

So are we.  So are we.  So are we.

Amen.

Tomorrow, at the Sea of Tiberius . . .

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Easter Thursday, April 4, 2013 – John 20:24-29

Caravaggio: The Incredulity of Saint Thomas

Caravaggio: The Incredulity of Saint Thomas

My Lord and my God!

Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe. 

The loveliness of Thomas is that he is passionate; he leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind what is required to bring him to the conclusion that Jesus is risen.  We might see ourselves or someone we well know in this story today. We may even be Thomas ourselves.

A week has passed since the incredible event at the garden tomb; so many rumors fill the Jerusalem air that it is impossible to sort through them.  The disciples are again inside, we are told, and this time Thomas is with them.

Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you”.

Again the stunned surprise as the disciples look to one another to see who still stands in doubt.  It is likely that Thomas is not the only follower of the Teacher who needs convincing of the mysterious truth that Jesus is no ghost but a man, scarred by his crucifix experience, but still . . . a full, living, breathing, resurrected man.  Not resuscitated as was Lazarus, but risen.  The disciples in the Upper Room struggle once more to gain the peace Jesus so easily grants them.  All eyes move back to Jesus, who holds out his hands palms upward as he says to Thomas, Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it in my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.

Thomas’ response is five brief words that contain the theology by which he will live out the remainder of his days – a theology by which we too might easily live our entire lives . . . if we  might only see and believe: My Lord and my God!

We might wonder what words erupted from the other disciples who may have chided Thomas for his lack of belief.  We might imagine that there was a new solemnity in the air as these friends struggled to find new footing in this new place of total faith.  Or we might as easily believe that they fell into conversation just as they had so often done before this last Passover.  John does not record any detail but what we can see is Thomas’ unrelenting passion.  As strongly as he insisted on seeing evidence before committing himself to this incredible belief . . . he now as strongly validates the mystery standing before them.  My Lord and my God!

And so we pray . . .

Good and forgiving God, visit with us this day and each day in such a way that we cannot deny you: My Lord and my God!

Good and patient God, remain with us through our days of doubt and our nights of fear in such a way that we will always praise you: My Lord and my God!

Good and loving God, guide us in our times of trial and our times of rejoicing in such a way that we will always love you: My Lord and my God!

We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Tomorrow, the road to Emmaus . . .

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Thursday, January 19, 2012 – 2 Kings 19:21-31 – Preparation

Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago: The Sennacherib Prism

We have spent time reflecting on Hezekiah and his story of fidelity to God.  Today we make this story our own with prayer.  We make preparation to strengthen our faith; we prepare to trust in God alone.   Written on April 19, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Have you not heard it?  Long ago I prepared it, from the days of old I planned it. 

Not only is God eternal, so are his plans.  This does mean to say that our lives are predetermined or predestined in any way.  What this does mean to say is this:  God in his infinite and merciful economy has devised a way . . . and this way turns all harm to good . . . for those who join his remnant in foreign lands and foreign times.  For those who return to the covenant promise, for those who remain in the Spirit of the Beatitudes, there is a certain reward: life in the light which is the Mystical Body of Christ.  This is the good news we have heard proclaimed all Easter Week.  It is the same good news we hear proclaimed today.  There is no greater story.  There is no happier word.  There is no other love that waits in this way . . . for all to turn and return.

Caravaggio: Doubting Thomas

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, or to others, Doubting Thomas Sunday in which we see one of Jesus’ own friends and disciples refuse to believe in the resurrected Christ until he is able to experience his visit with his own senses.  Out of overwhelming love and compassion, Christ returns to a locked room to comfort his remnant, to encourage his bride, the church.  As we have said before, there is no greater story.

In today’s reading, the king of Israel, Hezekiah, follows God’s advice and allows God to overcome the enemy king of Assyria, Sennacherib.  We have spent time reflecting on this incident before but today we focus on the isolated words of the Lord . . .

Have you not heard it?  Long ago I prepared it, from the days of old I planned it. 

And just as Yahweh turned harm to good in the story of Hezekiah and in the story of Jesus, so too does he move in our lives today.  We remember that the angel of the Lord struck down enemy troops.  We remember that the Lord himself came to save us on the cross.  And we also remember that even after his death he returned to the locked room where he friends hid in fear . . . to open hearts, to open minds, to open up the darkness to the light, to open up the stinginess of the world to his love.

As remnant, we do well to prepare to receive this deepest of hopes, this most powerful of forces, this irresistible love that cannot be quenched.

From the MAGNIFICAT Evening Prayer: Strengthen us in faith, O Lord!

That we may praise your power among those who are poor in faith, and encourage them by our good example.  Strengthen us in faith, O Lord!

That we may praise your love among those who do not know you, and be Christ’s ambassadors to those who seek with sincere hearts.  Strengthen us in faith, O Lord!

That we may praise your glory among those who fear death, and show them the path to life.  Strengthen us in faith, O Lord!

May God keep us firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Evening Prayer.” MAGNIFICAT. 19.4 (2009): 129-130. Print.  

For more information on the Sennacherib Prism, click on the image above or go to: http://bibleandarchaeology.blogspot.com/2010/12/ancient-record-of-biblical-king.html

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Sunday, July 3, 2011 – John 11 – Thoughts on the Raising of Lazarus

When we come across the story of the raising of Lazarus we may be tempted to skim through it or even skip over it altogether; we are thinking that we have heard this one before and yes, we have.  But if we set aside a quiet time and a quiet place to read this account of an event that took place two millennia ago . . . and when we pause to mediate on the meaning of the words beyond the story . . . we feel Christ’s presence through the questions that spring up from the pages.  And we are given new gifts of wisdom.  Here is one such gift I received this afternoon . . . you may want to offer up your own. 

Verse 16: So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “let us also go to die with him”.  Thomas knows that if Jesus and his followers return to Judea – they have heard the news of Lazarus’ death – they may very likely be stoned, we understand, because earlier the disciples caution Jesus saying: “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?”  Thomas is usually remembered in John 20 as the doubter, the one who refuses to believe that Jesus has returned from the dead until he has seen the crucifixion nail marks and has put his own hand in the wound in Jesus’ side.   Perhaps John uses Thomas in this way to give us the opportunity to examine our own belief in the risen Christ.  Do we demand signs or do we willingly follow . . . even when danger is imminent?  Jesus has told us about the many ways in which he appears to us.  Do we willingly follow with enthusiasm as Thomas hopes to do?  Maybe we willingly respond as Thomas does when we realize that we have doubted Christ himself . . . My Lord and my God!   Today we have the opportunity to think about our readiness to respond as Thomas does when we encounter Christ in any form.  We are perhaps uncomfortable approaching the poor, the stranger, the needy and the imprisoned yet Jesus lives in them as he lives in us.  He is not only present in those who look like us and behave as we do . . . but in diverse others as well.  This gives us something to think about today . . . and it is an opportunity to draw nearer to Jesus.

There are other small places that call us to examine our way of perceiving Christ in others.  We may want to explore the verses that describe Jesus’ encounter with Martha and Mary.  Why does Martha tell Mary secretly that Jesus has arrived?  Why does the writer describe Jesus as perturbed?  What causes Jesus to cry?  And what do we discover about ourselves when we read verse 48?  When we arrive at the close of Chapter 11 we are told how dangerous it was to even know Jesus’ location; and we understand that members of the Sanhedrin clearly prefer land and nation over following and coming to know one who might be the Messiah.  How do we react to these chilling words? 

And so we read, we pause, we reflect . . . and then we pray:  Good and faithful brother, we read this account of how you comforted your friends and called Lazarus back to this life.  We also have read about your sadness and unease.  We have understood the danger you were in . . . and that you know we are often in danger when we follow you.  Yet we know that your words and your actions bring about the peace that all of us yearn to hold.  We know that you are our wise teacher and loving shepherd. 

We know that where you go there will be questions, yet we follow because we want answers.

We know that that where you go the old order will be questioned, yet we follow because with you we are unafraid. 

We know that where you go there will be peace . . . and so we follow for this is also how we wish to live. 

Guide us always, protect us always, be with us always . . . for we are trying to follow . . . you.  Amen. 

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