On this first Sunday after Easter, we encounter Thomas, and his struggle for faith in difficult circumstances. Thomas is the patron saint for all of us today who have times of questioning, times of doubting and times of wondering about our faith. Unlike Roman Catholicism, Anglican faith is not a package deal. Following the tradition of Richard Hooker, it is built on three key things: scripture, tradition and reason. Anglicanism has reason and permission to think and to question at its very heart, and the most important thing to remember today, is that this is not lack of faith. Doubting and questioning when faced with tough times are utterly human, and in fact are part of faith.
There is a big difference between unbelief and the dark night of the soul. When Jesus cried out from the cross ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’, this was not unbelief. It was instead a deep cry to the God who was his Father, a deep questioning about what exactly God was doing as he endured unimaginable pain. Crying out to God, questioning God in those dark times in our own lives, asking God what on earth God is up in either our personal circumstances, or on the world stage is a long way from unbelief. The soul cry in times of pain or loss or grief is about belief, or dark night of the soul. This story about Thomas shows us just how God responds to us at these times – not with condemnation, but with love and tenderness.
When Jesus comes back to that locked room, he comes specifically to Thomas to answer his doubts. The scene is tender. There are no recriminations and no accusations, just a gentle answer to his questions and his doubts, point by point, until Thomas falls to his knees, and in a great affirmation of faith says ‘My Lord and my God.’
In peace, Mother Lynda