This Sunday is the eighth day of the Octave of Easter.
We have been told by the Government during this last week that there will be three more weeks of lockdown. Many of us remain anxious about friends and loved ones that we cannot see or visit. We continue to pray for our doctors, nurses and care home staff and all those that support them. We pray that our leaders and experts in this country may continue to guide us in wisdom and justice. We pray for the souls of those who have died from the virus and commend them to the mercy and love of God.
Today I want to thank all the people of St Thomas’ parish for their love, care and support that they have shown each other. Co-ordinated by the St Vincent de Paul Society, many parishioners have been able to help those in the community who cannot get out and need shopping and medicine. We are also working with Churches together in Canterbury by offering to make phone calls to anyone feeling cut-off and lonely.
You will be pleased to know that despite lockdown Fr Sylvester, Canon John and myself are still speaking to one another and have greatly appreciated your Easter messages and gifts. Thank you. We are able to celebrate Mass together everyday. I have recovered from what I think was flu and am getting my strength back.
In reflecting on the Gospel today, we see that a key character in the gospel is Thomas. Fr Binoy, who used to be here in our parish, resented St Thomas being referred to as Doubting Thomas. He thought we should remember St Thomas as the one who gives us the wonderful expression of faith “My Lord and my God”. It is not Jesus who Thomas doubted but his fellow disciples. The scripture scholar, Raymond Brown, wrote:
“Thomas has been remembered in Christian imagery as the doubter par excellence; yet the last words of Jesus to him in response to his confession of faith are an enviable encomium, “you have believed.””
When Jesus returned to the locked room where the apostles were, eight days after his first visit, and Thomas was there, Jesus offered him his wounded hands and side so that Thomas could touch them. Thomas didn’t do so but instead made his personal statement of belief in Jesus, acknowledging him as his Lord and God. Like all the others who encountered the risen Jesus he immediately expressed his Easter faith.
If you were to write a personal confession of faith what would it be? How would you express what God means to you personally, who Jesus Christ is for you and how you understand the Resurrection? By adding “my” before the names we use and the images we think of when we think of Jesus and God, the distance between you and God collapses. Loving Lord, there are times when I doubt and find it hard to believe. You have always said “ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened to you”. Today I ask that you deepen my faith in you that I may know and experience your loving presence as you offer me your wounds to touch. Help me to say “My Lord and my God”.