Father George Homily Inspirational

On Being Sent

Easter II (RCL Cycle B)

7 April 2024

“I believe in order to know, and I know in order to believe.” —St. Anselm of Canterbury (c. 1033– 1109).

Happy Easter!

The second Sunday in the Great Fifty Days of Easter is always given to two separate but equally important resurrection appearances. The first appearance Jesus shows up in the locked room where the disciples are hiding in fear (tradition has it that this was the same upper room where they and Jesus ate the “Last Supper). It is the evening of Resurrection Sunday (my hunch is that Clopas and his companion are running their 10K from Emmaus back to Jerusalem (we’ll hear that story on another Sunday).

During this first appearance, Jesus demonstrates to his disciples that he is very much alive and well. Then three things happen: first, he commissions (sends) them to go out into the world; second, he breathes on them with the invitation to “receive the Holy Spirit;” and third, he gives them the authority to forgive or retain the sins of anyone. Thus, the disciples are to continue Jesus’ ministry of healing and reconciliation in the days and years to come (we’re still instructed to continue Jesus’ ministry in the world.

The second appearance takes place a week later. Thomas, who missed the events of the previous Sunday, expressed his unwillingness to believe the good news of the resurrection unless he had tangible proof. Jesus appears and invites Thomas to touch his wounds and gently says, “Don’t be faithless, but believe.” Jesus then proclaims blessing on those who have come to true faith without the need for sight as proof. This is not a rebuke of Thomas, but an affirmation for the generations to come who will read John’s Gospel — those who must rely on Jesus’ words and not his physical presence in order to believe. Ironically, it will be the testimony of Thomas that will bring future believers to faith.

The connection between knowing and believing is instantaneous. In response to Jesus’ presence and Jesus’ gift of offering Himself to Thomas, Thomas declares, “My Lord and my God!”

It is worth noting that, according to tradition, the new beginning of Thomas’ life resulted in Thomas’ traveling as far as the subcontinent of India, carrying the Good News that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, the one whom God had raised from the dead. Even today, there is a church in India which bears Thomas’ name, the Mar Thoma Church.

Thomas is remembered in the well-known phrase, “Doubting Thomas.” Jesus’ words to Thomas don’t focus on Thomas’ doubts so much as they do on Thomas’ unwillingness to believe. The more accurate translation of Jesus’ comment is “Do not be unbelieving, but believe.” If we remember that the other disciples also doubted Mary Magdalene’s testimony that the Lord had risen, we can see that Thomas was doing what the other disciples had also done. To each of these, the Lord provides a basis for knowing, and therefore, a basis for believing.

For most of us, the trajectory involving knowing and believing isn’t so meteoric as Thomas’ was. Perhaps the walk we walk with God involves tentative steps toward believing in the truth of the claims of the Gospel, and perhaps these initial steps are mingled with a good bit of disbelief or doubt. But, I think, these initial steps provide the framework for God to open our minds and hearts to greater knowing, and therefore, greater believing. The paraphrase of Anselm’s statement affirms this process, “I believe in order to know, and I know in order to believe.”

One aspect of coming into a closer walk with God helps the other: Believing helps us to know or to understand, and further knowing and understanding helps us to believe all the more deeply.

We will not be entirely done with this process until we are in God’s presence in eternity someday. As St. Paul so wisely says in 1 Corinthians 13:9 and 12, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part. … For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” i

This morning, we will witness the commitment of several women who are exploring a vocation to become a Daughter of the King. This is a lay order for women who commit themselves to a life of prayer, service and evangelism. Through becoming a Daughter, they are living into the call of this morning’s Gospel. I ask that you keep them in your prayers.

Happy Easter!


i Gene R. Tucker, Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania.

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