The gospels invite the reader to inhabit a narrative space so as to be reformed in imagination and desire. ‘Written so that you may believe’ (John 20: 31), they extend to the reader an invitation that, whether it elicits a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, is radically self-involving. Its proclamation demands much more than an intellectual consideration. It is a summons to participate in a particular form of life, to become a ‘new creation’ in Christ. — Brian Robinette, Grammars of Resurrection
The difference between the Christian hope of resurrection and the mythological hope is that the former sends a man back to his life on earth in a wholly new way which is even more sharply defined than it is in the Old Testament. The Christian, unlike the devotees of the redemption myths, has no last line of escape available from earthly tasks and difficulties into the eternal, but, like Christ himself (‘My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’), he must drink the earthly cup to the dregs, and only in his doing so is the crucified and risen Lord with him, and he crucified and risen with Christ. — Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison
On Anzac Day, I began to reflect on wounds and woundedness. And a memory from my childhood surfaced.
In the bible’s famous ‘love chapter’, 1 Corinthians 13, St Paul says:
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.
I’m going to tell you a story from when I was a child, and thought like a child. I was born in 1953, and the adults around me were nowhere near over the Second World War. Rationing hadn’t completely finished in England when I was born, but I’m speaking of course about the psychological effects on ‘my’ adults.
My dad used to talk about being in the Royal Navy. When I asked him what he did in the Navy, he told me he was a gunner. So I would ask him how many German planes he’d shot down, and every time he would give me this one-word answer: ‘None’.
I couldn’t believe it. My dad must have shot down hundreds of German planes! He was being modest, I thought.
When I was old enough, I realised that since my dad was born in 1931, he wasn’t old enough to have fought in World War Two. He joined the Navy as soon as he could, but it was after the war. Dad was telling the truth: he didn’t shoot down one single German plane.
As I thought like a child, my first reaction was disappointment. Thank goodness we are given the opportunity to think as adults.
Yet as a child, and because I thought as a child, I wanted my dad to have shot down German planes. I didn’t even realise that may have meant German airmen being wounded, or dying.
Today’s Gospel Reading is about a perennial favourite of mine, Thomas. ‘Doubting’ Thomas.
(Let’s get one thing out of the way; it’s ok to doubt and even better to open up to someone about it, but Doubting Thomas wasn’t doubting. The thing is, when Thomas committed himself to something he threw himself right in there. So he wasn’t going to commit to what the others had said about Jesus being raised from death unless he saw for himself.)
So I don’t want to talk about his so-called doubts, but about him and his God. This is the amazing thing: Thomas’ God was wounded.