This is really our first glimpse of the newly born Christian community. It is not yet even called Christian but these men and women are our ancestors in the faith. Probably the very cross on which Jesus had been crucified was at this time still standing on the execution hill west of the city. Even now his risen power has brought into being a people that will spread around the world and continue through time. We who read this passage today are those very people in our own time.
The poet sounds a deep longing for community, as indeed we do today, both in society and in the Church. One image he uses for unity is particularly beautiful, that of Mount Hermon in northern Galilee, almost always snow capped. It affects seasons and crops and frequently brings an early morning dew. This dew is a source of joy and hope and life. The poet points to unity as the source of joy, life, and hope. We know this well but we also know how elusive unity can be.
THE SECOND READING
1 John 1.1 - 2.2
Time has gone by since the first reading, maybe even a generation. This passage hints that the still new community is not entirely at one about how christian faith should affect personal behaviour. In the second half of the passage we can detect indignant pushback to this criticism. “But we do have fellowship with the Lord! We are not sinning. We are not walking in darkness!” This tension between belief and behaviour has never been fully resolved. We have only to look around us, and if truth be told, within ourselves.
THE HOLY GOSPEL
The great story here is that of Thomas. I see Thomas as a person who, when he makes a commitment, its a total commitment. He has done that with Jesus and he has stuck through thick and thing. Now his heart is broken at what has happened. Thomas is determined never to give his heart again, never to trust life. But when Jesus stands before him Thomas gives himself utterly again. Ironically named the classic doubter, he is actually the classic believer. He wants to believe, must believe. Are not many of us in that situation today?