The Incredulity of St Thomas, or The Rockox Triptych, after the name of the donors, by Peter Paul Rubens (circa 1614), as it relates to the Gospel reading for 4/27/14, below.
The Bible readings for Sunday, April 27, 2014 are:
Psalm 16, at page 599 of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP),
1 Peter 1:3-9,
and John 20:19-31, which tells the story of “Doubting Thomas.”
But first, a word about Rubens’ interpretation of the Gospel reading. For one thing, this painting seems to be one of the least gruesome versions available. On the other hand, Rubens painted the spear-wound on the “wrong side,” which could bring up some interesting thoughts…
On that note, Wikipedia defined a doubting Thomas is “a skeptic who refuses to believe without direct personal experience, a reference to the Apostle Thomas, who refused to believe that the resurrected Jesus had appeared to the ten other apostles, until he could see and feel the wounds received by Jesus on the cross.”
On the other hand, you could say that achieving a direct personal experience with The Force That Created The Universe is – or should be – what the church-going experience should be all about, but we digress…
Wikipedia went on to define “Thomas the Apostle, sometimes informally called Doubting Thomas or Didymus which means “The Twin” … one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, according to the New Testament. He is best known from the account in the Gospel of Saint John, where he questioned Jesus’ resurrection when first told of it, followed by his confession of faith as both ‘My Lord and my God’ on seeing and touching Jesus’ wounded body.
On that note, consider the recent Yahoo Answers exchange (see If you doubt and question your faith … – answers.yahoo.com) on the following question:
If you doubt and question your faith will it become stronger? …
The flip side of that question is: “Should we just blindly believe?”
That seems to be the Bible-take of some Christians, but others – including those more prone to follow the Via Media – think a bit of skepticism can be healthy.
The “Best Answer” to the Yahoo question above included this:
Remember Thomas, the disciple, who wouldn’t believe in Christ’s resurrection until he put his hand into Jesus’s wounds. He went on to die spreading the gospel in Persia and India. God gave us free choice, He doesn’t want us to be robots, He could have made us like that, but wanted us to choose for ourselves. You learn and grow by questioning.
So, there seem to be Christians who see The Faith as a spiritual strait-jacket, a pre-made form into which “we” should shape ourselves. This type of Christian also seems to believe that there will be a checklist at the Pearly Gates, and that if you don’t answer every question exactly right you won’t get in.
Other Christians try to see The Faith as a set of Spiritual Wings . . . but more about that in later posts.
Back to this Sunday’s readings. You can see the full readings at www.lectionarypage.net, but here are some “color comments.”
In Acts 2:14a,22-32, Peter gave fellow Israelites his eyewitness account of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, including the “power, wonders, and signs that God did” through Jesus. He extensively quoted King David’s writings – remember, Peter was pretty much an illiterate fisherman before he became a disciple – including this pithy comment about God, “You have made known to me the ways of life.”
Again, that is – or should be – what the church-going experience is all about.
Unfortunately, time is running out for the DOR Scribe, so it’s time to end this post. But “be on the lookout” (BOLO) for future posts.