In Shakespeare’s “Henry V” the King makes a stirring speech to his soldiers on the night before Saint Crispin’s Day as they prepare to fight the French at Agincourt.
Henry’s troops are greatly outnumbered and morale is low. Henry tells his men:
Whenever Saint Crispin is celebrated,
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian:
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vig’l feast his neighbors,
And say ‘Tomorrow is Saint Crispian:’
Then he will strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
Scars can seem to make a person “more human”, real, believable. But our deepest scars are not always visible: they are deep and not openly acknowledged.
The story of Thomas and how Jesus was present to him is the story of the church. Jesus appears to friends, shows the scars of his living, suffering and death. He shares his woundedness with his friends. Thomas’s response to Jesus’ invitation to touch his wounds is profound:. His words witness to his risen Lord, to the presence of God in the risen Lord.
Echoing the ending to Mark’s gospel in which the women, terrified, rush from empty tomb, run home and, out of fear, tell no one, John’s story describes a group of disciples huddled in a locked room in Jerusalem, afraid to venture out. Yet, within a generation or two they have taken their message to distant lands. There’s a strong tradition that the church in India grew out of the missionary work of Thomas.
God, in the risen Christ, stands among a fearful huddle of people and offers “Shalom”, an offer embracing wholeness, healing and release from fear. In risen Christ the scars remain but our scarred God comes to be with us, with scars we bear, the wounds we carry, the doubts we harbour. In our woundedness and fear behind doors we lock and barriers we put up, the Wounded One finds us and offers us wholeness – life in all its fullness – and sends us out.
This is the good news of Easter!
the risen One among us,
even in our doubt.
© Jeff Shrowder, 2012.
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