Pentecost approaches. We are in the middle of “the 50” and the life of the Church looks forward to the reminder. We remember the day that it was all too, too real and God chose to put a final rest to all of the doubts we grudgingly hang on to. Those are the doubts about who we are and what our place in the world is. About our faith and its realities. When you think about Pentecost, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For me it is the chaos of it all, wind, shouting, astonishment, the crowd, the shock of it as it registers on each of the faces of the disciples, that this is the “It” that Jesus talked about. The power of the Holy Spirit!
What must Thomas have been thinking at that very moment? After all he was the one who was determined to get himself away from all of this craziness in light of the leader who lied, the one who promised victory and then died in a shameful way anyway. “…if you are the son of God, come down from the cross.” (Mt. 27:40) That was a crush to his heart which was impossible to deal with. So much so that he left the crew. In his woundedness, he decided he was done. He would never give his heart to another who promised the joy of living with the love of God present and at arm’s reach 24/7. It was something he could touch daily. He knew that particular life and then found out it was all untrue and too brutal when it ended. So he was not there the moment the God who loved Him came for him. To heal, wipe his tears and show that He was real, not a figment of any one’s imagination. To teach the truth that death lost!
Now he was in the middle of it all again. Driving wind , fiery visions, this cacophony of foreign languages, this unmistakable desire to preach, this falling away of all fear, this unearthly energy never experienced before. The Holy Spirit propelling it all in a way that couldn’t be denied. It was just as Jesus had told them. Maybe Thomas wondered if this was one more lie, a house built on sand that would simply fade away. Maybe, but his wounded spirit could not deny that even despite his bruised, self-centered spirit, The Master came back for him anyway. Ego does that, even in the midst of a life changing crisis for others, we think about ourselves! Thomas was that guy! But he was also the guy who was: “No man left behind.” At any one moment of life each of us is a puzzling mix of self and outside of self. The record of Thomas and Jesus should be something we turn to often. It is perhaps one of those meditations to last a lifetime.
Jesus did not have to return to the disciples, He had already made his spectacular point by appearing in the upper room and chiding them to touch him in order to prove he was not a ghost. Once was enough to demonstrate that! None the less, in a week he returned and aimed his miracle squarely at Thomas as per Thomas’ own claims. (Luke 24:39) What was Thomas to do? Should he have called Jesus a liar while his own hand was in the wound of Jesus’ side? Clearly Jesus was there because of Thomas’ skepticism. Jesus was well aware of the future and he wanted to make sure there was no man left behind. He needed Thomas’ skill for the future of the Church. Tradition and architecture support his presence as a potent evangelist in India. To this day cultures and groups re-tell stories of his presence and his skill as a builder. In Palayooy India an ancient Church stands with it’s construction directly credited to St. Thomas the Apostle.
Are you mad at God? Do you have your doubt? Are you angry because of a woundedness you think God has caused you? You can go through the list of excuses for not being present to Him or locking your door with your fingers in your ears. You can’t deny the record, though. No matter how deep your wound or disappointment, God always has you in his sights.When the time comes, he will make sure you are the next: “no man left behind”. Don’t you want to speed that up just a little? Pentecost with its extraordinary promise and total confusion waits for each of us! …and YES, you want to go there!
Copyright© 2017, Kathryn M. Cunningham