April 28, 2019 at St. Peter and St. William Churches in Naples, FL
Acts 5, 12-16 + Psalm 118 + Revelation 1, 9-11,12-13,17-19 + John 20, 19-31
As we proclaim this Gospel today, it is easy to zero in on the Apostle Thomas, but if we do, we run the risk of missing the whole point of John’s narrative here. John is writing this Gospel long after most people who had seen and heard the historical Jesus have died. John is writing to people who have never seen Jesus. The people who were to receive this Gospel never saw or heard Jesus before his resurrection. That’s the point of having Thomas absent and then having him come to faith in the risen Christ. So, Thomas becomes you and me unless some of you are older than I think! Having seen Jesus before his death and resurrection is no longer the measure or the criteria for who belongs in the Apostolic church. Now, by our faith because we have not seen but believed, we are included, says John, in the mission of Jesus Christ.
John sees and reveals to us that creation is happening again. The breath of life, the very Spirit of God, passes through Jesus into us. God breathes life into the body of His son. His son breathes life into us. We have in us, and we are because of Jesus and the Spirit he has breathed into us the very power of God, and that should scare us just a little bit. By the breath of that Holy Spirit breathed into us, we have and may exercise the power of God. The responsibility that comes with that power ought to make us tremble. And so, we have to ask, “What is this God Jesus has revealed?” “Who is this God with whom we have become one through Jesus Christ?” Well, we know his name. It is Mercy! Forgiveness is his Peace. Reconciliation and healing are the consequence of this God’s presence. Without mercy, there is no God. Where there is no Mercy, God will not be found.
Jesus Christ made man is the greatest act of God’s mercy. It was God’s way and God’s plan for forgiveness. In Jesus Christ with the human and divine made one, our alienation from God is healed and our oneness with God is restored. With God’s live breathed into us, we become mercy and forgiveness is not ours to receive any longer as much as it is ours to give in the name of Jesus Christ. We have been warned by Christ that we have the power to “retain” sin, and his words in that regard are more of a warning than a commission. “Don’t do it” is what he says, because if you do, your sins will be retained.
Vengeance, retribution, and justice without mercy are all signs that sin is being kept or retained, and this only give sin more power. As disciples of Jesus sent out into this world, we are heralds of mercy and bringers of peace which we can only bring through forgiveness. The words: “As the father has sent me, so I send you” spring out of this Gospel today right in our face. This is God speaking to us, not just to that group on the shore. The power that comes with this commission is the power to bring peace, to restore respect and love on this earth. When we get this right, we shall once again be living in paradise where there will be no more fear, no more tears, no more sadness: only the love and the glory that belongs to those who are blessed.