Psalm 16, Acts 2:14a. 22-32, 1 Peter 1:3-9, John 20:19-end
“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20.29)
One of the saddest aspects of this present Pandemic is the fact that it forces so many people to be alone; to ‘self isolate’, either on their own or with a partner, and for so many to die alone away from family and friends. I read of one lady whose husband was taken to hospital and into isolation where he later died. The saddest thing, the lady said, was that she no longer had anyone to cuddle.
We are by nature a homogeneous animal. It is in our DNA to gather together and to seek comfort from one another, probably as the disciples were doing in that locked room where they had gathered.
We also heard, in the Gospel Reading from Easter Sunday, how Mary Magdalene, on realizing that who she thought was the gardener was actually Jesus, at once went to hold on to him. ‘Jesus said to her, ”Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father.”’
Then of course there is poor old Thomas, who I must say I always feel a little sorry for. He knew that Jesus, the one who he had faithfully followed for years, had been crucified by the Romans, had died and been placed in a tomb, and yet now he was to believe that he had suddenly turned up in a locked room with his companions. Well, would you have believed it? Yet it was true, and again there had to be that physical proof, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Here the very physical evidence that Thomas had asked for.
There is also that wonderful moment, on that first visit, when Jesus breathes on those gathered disciples, passing on to them the Holy Spirit. As in the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, that same Holy Spirit they would receive again at Pentecost, that empowered them to leave their locked room and go out and face the crowds and tell the Gospel story.
It is a Gospel Story that has travelled through time and across the world touching millions of lives. Bringing hope where there has only been despair, bringing healing and love, when all was thought to be darkness and pain. In many ways, in countless parts of our world today, there are many feeling helpless, alone and often unloved. Yet we know as Christians, as others of different faiths also know, there will always be one who loves us, walks with us and holds on to us very tightly. For as Peter wrote in his first letter to the early church: “Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.“
So even in those darkest of times, when there may be few or even no one at our side, if we have our faith, and hold on very tightly to that, then we will truly never be alone.