From the vicar
John 20:19-20; 24-29
19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side…24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
The Sunday after Easter is traditionally known as Low Sunday. It is the octave day, (i.e. the eighth day after), the great day of Easter itself. Despite Jesus having appeared to the disciples on Easter evening, they are still in hiding a week later. Again Jesus comes and stands among them but this time, Thomas, who had been absent before, is present. From having been “doubting Thomas” he is transformed into “believing Thomas” by seeing the risen Christ in all his physicality – including the scars of his suffering on Good Friday.
The scars show the continuity of the identity of Jesus: the victim of Calvary is the victor of Easter
They remind us of the meaning of his suffering: by his wounds we have been healed
Yet Jesus is no mere resuscitated corpse, for his glorified body appears and disappears as he wills and is not impeded by locked doors – nothing can stop the entrance of Christ into our lives
Faith, by which we lay hold of Christ, is the “hand” we reach out to touch him today. It grasps him just as surely as vision, though in darkness. Yet he assures us: blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe!
for whom no door is locked, no entrance barred:
open the doors of our hearts,
that we may seek the good of others
and walk the joyful road of sacrifice and peace,
to the praise of God the Father. Amen
Every year the paschal candle – symbol of the risen Jesus – is marked in five places, to recall the wounds suffered by the Lord. An ancient and beautiful prayer is said by the priest:
By his holy and glorious wounds
may Christ our Lord guard us and keep us. Amen.
In these days when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Christ, let us pray for the repose of the soul of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, as the nation prepares for his funeral and for HRH Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family.
Prayer for HRH Prince Philip
Almighty and eternal God, from whose love in Christ we cannot be parted by death: hear our prayers and thanksgiving for your servant Philip; fulfil in him the purpose of your love; and bring us all, with him, to your eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.