I also wrote a lectionary post this week for my friends at Ekklesia Project. The Revised Common Lectionary readings are slightly different than the Catholic readings this week, but some of the points I make here are illustrated further there . See here for more.
This week, our reading from Acts focuses on “signs and wonders” done by apostles, and shows people living in hope that even Peter’s shadow might bring about healing.
This week, my gaze is drawn toward Thomas and his lack of trust of others. In stark contrast to the people in the Acts reading, Thomas doubts not only Jesus, but his own friends’ witness. All eleven of them have encountered the Risen Lord. Yet maybe because he feels he deserves a piece of the action, or maybe because he’s a skeptic, or maybe just because he happens to be in the wrong sort of mood that day, Thomas doesn’t want to go along with his crowd – not even his best friends.
In our time and place, we appreciate Thomas. We, too, want to know things for ourselves and not simply because others have witnessed them. We want our just desserts – if others in similar situations have gotten something good, we feel we should have it too. And of course, we are all too aware of times when “the crowd” gets things drastically wrong.
But what if our desire to know for sure, for ourselves, actually gets in the way of encountering Jesus? Jesus is made known to us through others. Take note of the faith that is shared in Acts: those people seeking healing are willing to entrust themselves and their care to other people.
That can be one of the scariest things in the world, for of course, people can get it utterly, disastrously wrong. Yet still, God has become Incarnate among us, and even asks us to be the Body of Christ for the world. If we can’t think others can offer us Christ, we surely can’t offer it to the world ourselves.
Moral theology depends on our belief in Jesus, which connects us to a whole host of people, past, present, and future, who also believe in Christ, despite not seeing or feeling the wounds for ourselves. But this is how God as deigned to be present to us, and this is how God asks us to follow.