Thomas the questioner
refuses to accept the unbelievable:
Good for him!
I’m there alongside Thomas;
let some of the criticism
that gospel-teller John sprays in his direction
paint my body, too.
In the end, we are told,
when he meets the impossibly revitalised
person of the man he had watched die,
Thomas puts aside his scepticism.
I suppose I would, too,
if invited by the risen Jesus
to touch his hands and side.
The good-news purveyor
writes of a resurrection far beyond
encounters with the risen Jesus.
There are generations
who will not have opportunity
to comprehend with their eyes,
but who will be none-the-less be blessed
with believing, perceiving, rather,
in their hearts.
They follow resurrection’s improbable promise
of justice, hope and love;
treading with faith
that foolish and costly path through death,
When your eyes are opened,
you will see him,
no longer hidden,
but unveiled, revealed
as the one sent from above.
You may remember this day
and my words. No,
I am not he.
Who is he, what does he look like?
I cannot answer;
I simply know that he is coming,
perhaps even come,
among us; here, today.
What will he say to us,
what will he ask of us?
Ready yourselves to make him welcome;
nothing will remain the same.
Do not fear his changes,
embrace them with courage;
the magnificent journey awaits us all.
It will be no easy passage.
Accept the risk, start now,
and join me in the water.
They assembled their questions
and laid them before him.
Some wanted answers,
reaching towards enlightenment;
for others the goal was to snare and entrap.
Some questions were honest, others devious;
a few asked after truth,
for others the answers were of no account.
Who is he,
why has he come?
By whose authority,
when is the hour,
which is the way,
who can be saved,
what do these things mean?
Who is my neighbour?
The man poses questions of his own.
He does not wait for an invitation;
he asks, who are you, what will you be?
Will you come and love,
and weep, and give?
Will you stand? If you fall,
will you rise and live?
Will you dare?
So many doors,
colours, sizes, shapes;
some swing from the left,
others from the right,
so many choices.
Which doors are for me?
Will it be the journey within,
The fourth gospel
designates the Good Shepherd
as the gate, a door through which
his sheep might enter into life.
When I passed through that door,
many years ago,
I was told by some earnest
sisters and brothers
that there were certain doors
to be avoided
for fear of one’s eternal life.
These well-meaning friends
insisted that those who travel
through such doors will be lost.
So many doors,
so many dangers.
I went through one anyway.
too many questions,
too many doubts.
notwithstanding all the warnings,
it was the Shepherd
who was waiting at the other side.
Let me join you, Thomas,
out here in the outer-circle of disciples;
along with other questioners and doubters.
Here I shall make my home among those
for whom creedal recitations
and orthodox affirmations
seem increasingly less relevant.
(Discipleship, we all know, has only one test.)
Our wonderings will be loud,
and our speculations wild and free;
none shall be offended,
perhaps not even God.
In our outer-circle orbit,
always at risk,
we will repeat the stories and tell new ones,
and do our best to love into reality
the kingdom of which the Master spoke.
Defying the sadness and the fear
we will announce in word and deed
the mysterious presence of He who died.
I like to think that we would do so
even if the tomb had not been emptied;
and, if, one day,
the Master’s earthly remains were to be found,
it would make no difference.