How Can This Be?
Second Sunday of Easter
April 12, 2015
Palm Sunday evening, there were a number of programs about Jesus on television. I happened to be watching one that I found particularly inspiring. So, I sent a text message to a friend who I thought would appreciate the program as well. I kept it short, so as not to miss anything. “CHANNEL 72 GREAT JESUS PROGRAM.” In no time, I got back an equally brief reply. My friend obviously didn’t want to be distracted, either: “WATCHING LONG ISLAND MEDIUM!” As I read that message, I instantly thought: Why? Why would you watch “Long Island Medium” when you could be enjoying a really good program about The Lord? The answer just might be in this Sunday’s Gospel: John 20:19-31. Thomas’s reaction to the Easter news took me back to that text exchange…and it occurred to me…“that’s why!” Like Thomas, we need solid, concrete proof of things that are so far beyond our human experience, even our imaginations won’t allow us to believe…to be certain…to be convinced…to commit…until we see it for ourselves.
Remember that our story begins with a young girl responding to the invitation of a heavenly messenger with the words: How can this be? (Luke 1:34) We don’t call this very valid and reasonable question “doubt.” It is simply too far beyond either lived experience or even human imagination that a woman can “spontaneously” become pregnant, not to ask: How can this be? Still, Mary’s faith enabled her to lay aside her astonishment and declare: Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord! And from the instant the angel departed, the proof…the validation of her trusting faith…began to literally grow within her.
As we move forward into the Easter Season, it’s good to remember that our own personal stories begin in Baptism. When we come to the font of our parish church, in reality, we are stepping out of the “here and now” and into the waters of the Jordan River, where we share in Jesus’s Baptism. How can this be? That’s a reasonable question since timelessness in not part of our lived experience, far beyond our ability to imagine. And so we ask: How can this be? The answer comes to us on the echo of an angel’s voice: The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. By the power of the Holy Spirit, through Baptism, we are reborn in Christ, and from the instant that the water trickles over our heads, the eternal begins to grow within us.
There are times when, like Thomas, we doubt. So it is also good to remember that even as we are called to share in His Divine life and eternal glory, we are also invited to share in His earthly mission and ministry. Through the power of the Most High, with which we are infused when the living waters wash over us, we are empowered to forgive, exorcise demons, feed the hungry, and calm the storms that rage around us. Through Baptism, we are called to help make timelessness…the Kingdom of God…a lived reality. While we wait for the resurrected life growing within us to be born into the Glory of the Heavenly Jerusalem, whereupon our trusting faith will be validated and rewarded, there will be times when we question, or even doubt. When that happens…DO THE WORK! Jesus was all about “the work!” And when we share in the work, it’s easier for us to imagine just exactly what it means to be raised from the dead. DO THE WORK AND IMAGINE RESURRECTED GLORY!