BREAKING OPEN THE WORD
The Ministry entrusted to me by virtue of Ordination, is to break open the Word. I am not a writer as such, I am a proclaimer of God’s Word. Therefore the style of my realhomilie is a preaching style. I do apologise if there are any typos…they are so had to find at times……. I hope that God’s Word finds a home in you.
The Gospel according to John is filled with imagery and subtle nuances, which come together like that of a Symphony Orchestra….there are movements in the passage for this Sunday which are filled with catechetical, and didactic elements about the Resurrection of the Christ of Faith, and its impact upon the early Church. Let’s not forget that the Johannine community laced this version of the Good News together from many other sources, and its delivery was essentially for a Greek speaking audience.
For us in 2015, the evergreen Word of God is still being spoken through the 4th Gospel, as with the other three Gospels; so we must listen to God’s Word as though we were each connected to a giant Radio telescope. In short, we must use our whole body and mind as we listen to The Word, and gaze upon The Word, which always has an invitation for us. We cannot help but do something as a response; even nothing is a response.
In my dreams, I would love to be with a group of people who could proclaim this Gospel, not only in 3D, but also in surround sound. The Passages, like this one today, could be heralded in the midst of themes and quotes from the Old Testament while being beamed onto a Cinerama screen. Wouldn’t that be fantastic? Now, back to reality!
Let’s look and listen to today’s Gospel Passage like being present at a wonderful drama……the ongoing story of Jesus of Nazareth who was murdered last Friday, and then placed in the Tomb. It was the end of a tragic week…….the Curtain has been lowered. Interval takes place……the followers of Jesus the Way, are depressed, bewildered and scared!
It is vitally important to note that the Curtain is raised on the evening of the first day of the week! Biblically speaking a new week of creation is happening! The disciples are gathered in a room out of fear, not joy. It was not like the gathering of the previous Thursday, where Jesus invited the Disciples to be ‘foot washers’, like their Good Shepherd. Now, their hopes are dashed!
What happens next? Into the gloomy room of gathering, the Risen Lord stands in their midst! He greets them with a special gift….’Peace be with you!’ What kind of gift was that? It would seem that the peace which the Risen Lord is that special peace which was alive and well at the beginning of time. But, it has a marked difference with the pristine peace which abundantly infused the world before The Fall…..this new peace was won for us, through the triumph of His Passion and Cross, and is intrinsically linked with the re breathing of new life into Jesus at the moment of His Resurrection by the Father. The triumph of the Father is the Resurrection!
The Disciples are internally moved by this conservation…..from fear to joy! It says in the Gospel that they were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! This, it would seem, was not just seeing with 20 20 vision……but seeing with the eyes of insight = faith, that The Christ had come to them, and their past experience of Jesus of Nazareth, was all fitting together…..this is the Crucified Christ, Risen!
Our Lord offers them the first Easter gift again, so that they would be prepared to respond with responsibility which we see in the Lord’s command to send them out into the world, just as He was missioned by His Father to do the same.
The next movement of the drama develops when Our Lord breathes on them……let’s stay with this for a moment……no one breathes on anyone else from a distance……just as the Father was not at a distance when He breathed new life into His Son. A mother breathes on her baby while nursing her child. The mother’s breath gives life, peace, and security to her baby. When our parents are dying, we too have the privilege of breathing on them. This too gives them assurance of our love and presence which gives them strength; but it is not always seen by us at the time. Here we must remember that the sense of hearing is the last to go during dying. The Risen Lord breathes on His disciples…..how wonderful is that? He gives them a Gift which grows from the Easter Peace, and the command to go forth and share it with the world. Here, the Lord breathes new life into His disciples……just as life was breathed into the nostrils of the generic Adam, who was fashioned from the a-damah…..the earth! The ‘breath’ of God which hovered over the darkness of the deep, like a fine mist, when all was dark on the globe, activates life; new life from the primeval waters. A similar kind of ‘breath’ entered the dry bones in the Prophet Ezekiel…..is the same breath that the Risen Lord, breathed into His disciples.
Part of the mission given to the disciples is to forgive sin, and be vehicles of forgiveness to people. At this point, the curtain closes for a two minute interlude.
Now, the curtain rises in a room of light and joy, but Thomas missed out! History has called him ‘doubting Thomas’. How sad is that? Thomas could well be you and me!!!!! Thomas could well have been the Greeks to whom this Good News was addressed. Notice that the gathered disciples said in jubilation….’We have seen the Lord!’ It would seem that the past tense of the verb to see……..rings a bell about the eyes of faith which enabled them to see fully; this gift will come in time for Thomas.
Thomas wants to see the Wounds!!!!!! Now the curtain closes again, while for a week Thomas’s faith gestates. A week passes, and then of the eight day, a new week starts for Thomas and us. The Lord comes to them in the room, and offers His Easter gift of Peace to all…….then inviting Thomas to enter into His wounds by saying, ‘come, put your finger here, put your hand into the cavity wound in my side. Doubt no longer, but believe!’ What an invitation by the Risen Lord to Thomas and to us! Thomas’s response can be our response too!!!! ‘My Lord and my God!’
For us, the living Body of Christ, the New Israel, the Church, the Christian Community, the Parish, we too must frequently enter into the wounds of the living Body of Christ in the people around us. If we don’t do that, we are not within a Bull’s roar of seeing with the eyes of Faith, Christ in our midst. However, when we do venture forth, being mindful of the command of the Risen Lord to go out to all people, the reality that embraces us, is Christ! We know it, we feel it in our body and mind, and the only response that can say ….is the one that Thomas said……’My Lord and My God!’ As this mission happens in us, it is the Peace of the Lord which connects us to others, and can become a moment of healing and salvation for other people as well as ourselves.
Let us pray, that when we feel scared and hopeless, let us breathe new life into others by calling them by name, spending time with them in a real listening conversation, and being compassionate; that is feeling and suffering with someone. They will know within the pit of their stomach, that what is happening to them, is in fact the Risen Lord visiting them………My, Lord and My God!
Why not share this Food for Thought with other people that you know and love……just copy it, and email it to them. It is a simple as that!