At the end of the octave of Easter, the gospel appropriately tells of two physical appearances of Jesus in the upper room, a week apart. This octave of Easter we too are locked in “the upper room” of our homes for fear of the virus (and one another) and, at least here in Colorado, about 14 inches of snow, which also rather shuts everything down. We’re afraid of the snow and ice, the weather, and the big thing that is going to happen: environmental collapse.

Too often the homilist is tempted to skip the opening lines of the experience, the part about the forgiveness of sins, mostly because the church does not really believe in it. We’re excellent at the retaining part of sins. If you don’t believe me, please remember the centuries old files that are kept on everyone who ever cause a stir of any sort, remember the official Western stance towards divorce and remarriage, remember the way the church treats women, if you get my point, and I was just warming up to the crimes of the patriarchy. In a highly legalistic church, there very little or no room for the Holy Spirit, of whom hierarchies are always afraid and suspicious.

I’ve long thought that the point of the Thomas event was only minority about his lack of faith, but rather about the forgiveness of Jesus toward Thomas, yet that too goes largely bypassed in the homilies for this Sunday. Jesus very gently forgives Tomas and literally invites Thomas into his body with his fingers and hand. This is remarkable for the vulnerability the Jesus shows and also his desire to be whole again with Thomas, and indeed with us in the body of the Eucharist.

Well, our world today is all about carefully washed hands, a warning about physical contacts, and breathing through face masks, and hands safely rubbed gloved. While these things are absolutely and unequivocally necessary, we humans, herd critters, miss sorely the physicality of human (and Divine) touch!

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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