Acts 4:32-35 Psalm 133
1 John 1:1-2:2 John 20:19-31
May these words and our thoughts be acceptable to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
From the earliest days Christians tried to build an egalitarian life and to live in unity, we might call theirs a pure communistic society, a united society, with common ownership of things, where all were treated equally and all were treated according to their need, because some of us have greater needs. It didn’t take long for that ideal community to fall apart. Ananias and Sapphira held some of their wealth back from the common purse (Acts 5:1-10) and others gave preference to people of their own ethnicity, today we call that racism (Acts 6:1). There is something about the human psyche that augers against sharing. For the most part, we have always grabbed and held on to as much as we could. The land of North America and lands around the world are prime examples of that, it goes back centuries and extends down to today. The end result is that there are the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ but the ‘have nots’. act the same way until all that is left at the bottom of the pile are the dispossessed and the destitute.
Christians being realists look to another way of sheltering others from ill fortune and are amongst the most generous givers. One of the words that we translate as ‘love’ in the New Testament is also defined as ‘charity’ – we can show love to others by giving charitably to those in need. The best givings come from the poor or at least the less wealthy. Giving ten million dollars to a hospital so that a section of it will bear your name, and probably net you a sizable tax credit, does not outweigh the five dollars dropped in the plate on a Sunday morning. I am reminded of the story of the Widow’s Mite, the widow gave out of her poverty (Mark 12:44) and of Mark 6:5 whose givers have already received their reward through public acclaim.
We are social creatures and we like to seek safety in a group. Of course that was what those early Christians were trying to do. They lived in a frightening pagan world and were a very small minority, and gathered and shared for their common good. Just as much as Jews must never forget that they were slaves in Egypt and have a special calling to help the Stranger in their society, we must remember that we were once the minority and we therefore have a special calling to help those in minority, because we know the power of the majority can be brutal.
Christians are no longer in the minority though, we are now the majority in global religions. We therefore have great riches and resources available to us, but the one thing about nearly every one of us, rich and poor alike, is we are stingy about sharing the gift of Faith. It’s not easy I know. Maybe it’s because people are a lot like Thomas, who say “Show me”. It’s much easier to give five bucks than give something from your heart but it’s really worthwhile to give it a shot. When we were baptised one of the things we should have started to do is share our Faith whether by word or by action. Some of us have the same difficulty as Thomas but as soon as he believed his whole focus changed.
That is what happens at our baptism our focus changes. Following Jesus’ baptism liturgically we have come through Lent and Holy Week, Good Friday and Easter Day. We have read the eyewitness testimonies of all that happened and what came after Jesus’ Resurrection. If it had happened this week we would have read about it in our newspapers, seen it on our televisions and smartphones, and seen a lot of discussion about it both supporting and challenging the Truth. Always the most reliable are the people who witnessed whatever the event was. Too often today we hear them say “I heard about twenty shots. Pop ! Pop ! Pop ! I thought I was in a war zone ! And people were running away !” We listen to those people with great credibility because they were there. We should do the same with the Bible stories related to us over the last few weeks. The stories are eyewitness accounts of what happened. Because these things happened two thousand years ago doesn’t mean that their testimony is no less true. So Jesus at the end of the Gospel today is speaking directly to us when He says “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe”. That’s us.
And when we come to believe we get baptised, our first profession of our faith. Now most of us by tradition are baptised as infants, because our parents wanted us to belong to the Christian Community. Because of that the responsibility of teaching the Faith falls mostly to parents. At the right time we are Confirmed making anew the statement this time for our ourselves that we belong in the Christian Community in whatever form it takes. I would like us to take to heart once again the eyewitness testimony of the Bible, and the Gospel of today in particular. It ends with this wonderful statement “these [things] are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name”. Although the Bible contains the greatest story ever told, it is not just a story, but the true retelling of all the things that God has done to bring us closer to Him. It tells the truth about all that God has provided, it tells us how God has guided and how God has sided with us against all that is troubling in our lives. Now is the time for us to share what we know and all that we believe with family and friends and all the Thomas’ of this world. Amen.