For some reason I feel compelled to set Thomas aside, and favour of forgiveness – a theme which appears in both readings. We usually only have one reading at the two services I’m preaching at on Sunday, so I’m actually leaving out John 20:24-31 in favour of having the first part of the Gospel and the passage from Acts, read separately but in chronological order.
We have received forgiveness at Easter, the barrier between us and God is broken, and now it seems he has a task for us… we are commanded to be the means by which God forgives others, which means that we need to be open to receiving the grace to forgive – if we withhold that forgiveness then we are disabling Jesus, stopping him from being able to achieve the work in others for which he died, and showing how his work in us is.
Lovely quote from Right Revd Tom Wright (actually given in ref to Mat 18:21-25 but hey it fits well for this week): “forgiveness is like the air in your lungs. There is only room to inhale the next lungful when you’ve breathed out the previous one. If you insist on withholding it – you will suffocate very quickly.”
Also from Gordon Wilson who lost his daughter in the Enniskillen Bomb on ’87:
The forgiveness he spoke of in the hours after the tragedy was an instantaneous decision “from the depth of his heart” which he then “struggled to live up to” but without making that offer he could “not have found the freedom to move on” from those events.
Therefore if we do not open ourselves to the Holy Spirit and allow God to help us to forgive, we lock Christ back in the tomb denying the world its freedom and chain ourselves to cross where he wasted his efforts to free us from our sins…