The Gospel of the Day – 2016.04.02
In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.
‘As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’
After saying this he breathed on them and said:
‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’
Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord’, he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him:
‘You believe because you can see me.
Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’
There were many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name.
Faith is Trust, Not Belief
The reading for today moves us for away from the ministry of Jesus and into the life of the early church.
John’s Gospel was written roughly one hundred-twenty years after Jesus. This reading contains some fascinating glimpses into the life of John’s community.
John’s says that the apostles hid in the upper room for fear of the Jews; indicating the deep division that had already taken place between the nascent church and the Jewish people who founded it.
Jesus and the apostles were Jewish. Ninety years before John’s gospel was written, St. Paul was active in his ministry to the gentiles, arguing with St. Peter about the notion that gentiles must first become observant Jews before they could join the church.
St. Paul won that argument. The church became opened to the world, and ninety years later would come to see the Jewish tradition and its people as anathema to itself.
There was great concern for the church and its authority in this time. Jesus is imagined as a priest doing priestly things; commissioning the disciples, instantiating their office, and empowering the to pass judgement on people, to forgive or not forgive sins as the disciples saw fit.
This flies in the face of the historical Jesus; who was not a priest, but was a prophet. Jesus forgave sins, and encourages the disciples to forgive sins, not because they had the special power to do so, but because God, the creator of the universe, forgive sins. When the prophet proclaims absolution, they are not exercising a special power, they are proclaiming the will of God, and announcing something that has already happened.
This reading encourages the people to respond to mystical deeds and magical happenings; ghostly apparitions and visions, as if the claim that these supernatural events took place lent some greater authority to their work.
Many are taken in by this sort of thing, but it is always a fabrication and a lie.
In the final passage the gospel writer puts forth the notion that the miracles were real, they were performed so that people would believe that Jesus is (in a special way) the son of God, and that through this belief they would come into the church named after him, and thus become candidates for eternal life.
The construction of this ideology is; come to the church where the Gospel is given, learn the of Jesus Christ, believe it he is the Son, be rewarded with eternal life.
The scheme is Gnostic.
The church rejected it in this same era.
We should to.
The meaning of faith is trust; trust in God.
The meaning of faith is not belief, belief in a proposition or an article of dogma.
Christian faith is not; believe in Christ so that you can be saved. It is; trust God, that you are saved already.
2nd Sunday of Easter