[__01__] Hide and seek.
The season of the resurrection for the first disciples was a time of both hiding and seeking. (The first Easter Season was a time of both hiding and seeking for the first disciples).
At times, Peter, James, John and the apostles/disciples escaped from their rivals, from the authorities, the
“police” by locking the doors. Jerusalem
They had hidden themselves in the Gospel we have just read.
[__02__] At other times, they were seeking…
At other times, they moved at great speed. On Easter Sunday, they were on the run, weren’t they? Running full speed ahead to the tomb where Jesus had been buried.
[__03__] What I’d like to reflect on is the spiritual benefit, the spiritual grace of both hiding and of seeking.
I’m suggesting we practice our faith in both ways. And, in their own small community, even the locked-up disciples were not completely lost… at least, they had stuck together in prayer during their crisis.
We also can hear and live the Gospel both by the ways we hid and by the ways we seek.
[__04__] For example, do we not believe that even in hiding, even on our escape routes, God can touch us.
In fact, we need times of hiding, privacy, and prayer to open ourselves to God’s grace.
We read in the Gospel of Matthew, “when you pray, close the door, go to your room, pray to your Father in secret and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” (Matthew 6:6)
[__05__] In this Sunday’s Gospel, the disciples are locked up in hiding together. Jesus arrived to speak about God’s mercy, his divine mercy which forgives our sins … in their community.
In community, we also learn about forgiveness … not only in knowing that Jesus died for everyone. We learn about forgiveness – in community – by admitting our faults out loud – in confession or to another person.
We learn about forgiveness by acknowledging – with compassion – that we are all sinners.
Forgiveness does not simply come through a locked door in a private encounter…. It is a gift shared by all.
Forgiveness / mercy is the grace which also opens the locked door and teaches us to avoid judgment about the motives and malice of others.
We read in the letter of St. James,
“let [everyone] be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rank growth of wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:19)
Our Savior spoke first about forgiveness in the secure – safe house – location of the Upper Room.
Receiving this grace – first in hiding or in a small community setting such as our own family – we then discover God’s mercy and presence outside our locked doors.
[__06__] In the Gospel this Sunday, we read that Thomas the Apostle had not been physically present at the hideout of the Upper Room.
Thus, he missed appearance of the Risen Lord, he denied the fact – at least temporarily of the Resurrection.
Traditionally, we would say that Thomas doubted… but to express doubt .. would mean that I would accept the possibility that what you were telling me is true.
This is doubt…. To doubt is to vacillate.. to go back and forth between Yes and No.
Thomas is not, exactly, doubting…Thomas was, for the moment, highly skeptical … and thus denying what he heard is possible.
Or… to be exact..he says that it is only possible if he himself also sees what they saw. He will not accept another person’s word for something so important.
Denial and skepticism can be helpful to us… if they were to help us reveal the truth to open a new door.
However, at times, denial and skepticism only keep us locked up. For Thomas was, for a while, locked up only in his own denial.
For example, an element of “denial” or skepticism is present in the endeavors to avoid deception… to avoid a lie …or to uncover something untruthful. In other words, show me the money.
In Major League Baseball in the United States this past week, we read about the suspension of a New York Yankees’ pitcher, Michael Piñeda whom the umpire caught breaking the rules.
What happened? The opposing team and umpires were skeptical watching his pitching motion, his pitches and his preparation to throw. He had been using pine tar to gain a tighter grip, but this is not permitted as it makes the pitches more difficult for opponents.
His opponent – the Boston Red Sox – simply refused to accept that what he was doing was legal. Their denial led to an investigation.
Skepticism can help us to find the truth … or end up in a 10-game suspension in the regular season.
[__07__] On the other and, sometimes, skepticism causes us to avoid the truth or to ignore the truth …or to deny the truth.
[__08__] For example, I may deny or refuse to accept advice that I receive.
This advice might mean I have to do something difficult, uncomfortable, unpleasant.
Or, I would only be willing to undertake this task – or change – if I were to have some guarantee. That’s all Thomas wanted… a guarantee.
To accept advice and help which is given to us lovingly, sometimes we are called to do more than seek physical evidence or material guarantees.
Blessed are we when we can accept God’s word …when we also who have not seen … can trust… can believe.
Then, we also – in prayer – can hide ourselves, immerse ourselves in God’s will and also … in action, as we read in the book of Isaiah the prophet … we can seek the Lord while he may be found and call upon him while he is near. (Isaiah 55:6)