“But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”” (John 20:24-25)
It’s the first Sunday after Easter, where every year we deal with this Gospel reading from John, chapter 20 – the story of ‘doubting’ Thomas.
You likely recognise it from the verses above. Thomas wasn’t with the other disciples when Jesus first appeared to them after the resurrection. The others filled Thomas in on the good news when he returned but he refused to believe it, making the rather gross assertion that unless he could stick his fingers into the marks in Jesus’ hands and put his fist into Jesus’ wounded site, he would not accept their story.
Almost all of our readings work on a three-year cycle, yet we always get this reading on the second Sunday of Easter. What is so important about this story that we get it every year? I assume it’s because Thomas’ pain is something we all identify with.
I’m never sure whether doubt is the best label for his pain. Would ‘disillusionment’ or ‘cynicism’ be better? Thomas had had his dreams shattered by the gruesome death of Jesus only a few days earlier. Now his friends were telling him to cheer up because Jesus was back. It sounds like a bad joke and had to be some sort of mass delusion. Thomas had only just started to grieve. Show a little respect!
I think most of us sense what Thomas was going through. Even if we have never fully descended into the pit of despair, we have teetered on its edge. We know what it is like to be disillusioned, to have our dreams shattered. I remember a friend of mine talking to me about his marriage breakdown. “I was young. I thought I had it all worked out. At the time of my wedding, I had a wonderful vision of how life was going to unfold. Now all that is gone, and I have no idea what comes next!”
We identify with Thomas in his pain, but what makes Thomas most relevant to me is his need for a physical resolution to that pain. Thomas doesn’t cry out for a new idea or for some insight that will help him make sense of it all. Thomas needs some one rather than some thing. He needs to take hold of the flesh of Jesus!
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25)
I am a great believer in the power of touch. Indeed, I believe one of the main reasons I’ve had so much success using boxing as a form of therapy and as a way of building community is because it involves us getting physical with each other.
Studies made of nineteenth century orphanages in the US found that the vast majority of babies who were left in their care from birth never made it to the age of two! The diagnosis given was ‘marasmus’, meaning that they “wasted away”. The problem turned out to be a simple lack of touch. As family therapist, Virginia Satir, said, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth”.
I appreciate that the way we embrace in boxing is not exactly a hug, and neither was it what Thomas was looking for, but healing touch comes in a variety of forms. Thomas needed a religious experience that he could hold in his hands.
I’m still not entirely sure why we get Thomas every year. We can identify with him in his pain, but Thomas resolved his pain in a way in which we cannot. We don’t get to take hold the flesh of Jesus … or do we? Could this be why Jesus instituted the Eucharist as a way of connecting with Him – “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19)? Perhaps the Eucharist is our way of connecting with Jesus via touch?
Our Sunday Eucharist and Bush Bash
We had a very special Bush Bash and Eucharist last weekend. Our good mate, Nathan Nicholas, was making short work of me in the ring on Saturday night, and I think that’s what inspired so many others – women and men – to step up and have a go. Most of those bouts are available for your viewing pleasure below.
Our guests on the Sunday Eucharist were Robert Gilland and Father Mark Battison, with Joel Jammal joining us via a pre-recorded reflection. Joel always finishes by encouraging us to disagree with him and tell him where he might have gone wrong, and this time people did! I won’t say here what the issue was, but if you missed the live broadcast, I encourage you to see for yourself what unfolded. The bottom line was that Father Mark played a magnificent role in bringing us all back together.
This week I’m hoping to have Karyn and Sam back with me live, and Father Ola joining us again from Sweden via a pre-recorded homily. I’m hoping to get a new song from Ola too. I think it’s time.
Join us this Sunday at midday via www.thesundayeucharist.com or via www.thesundayeucharist.com or via your favourite social media platform: Facebook , YouTube, Twitter or LinkedIn. or Telegram.
Let me work your corner
Thank you again to all of you who support Fighting Fathers Ministries through your prayers and through monthly financial contributions. If you’re not contributing financially and you can afford to, please go to Patreon.com and sign up to either:
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- Saturday, April 15th – Boxing from 3.00 pm @The Fight Lab
- Sunday, April 16th –Our Eucharist from midday @thesundayeucharist.com or via Facebook , YouTube, Twitter or LinkedIn. or Telegram
- Tuesday, April 18th – Boxing from 6.30 pm @The Fight Lab
- Thursday, April 20th – Boxing from 6.30 pm @The Fight Lab
- Friday, April 21st to Sunday, April 23rd – another Warrior Weekend @Binacrombi. Please let me know ASAP if you can make it. 🙂
- Saturday, April 29th – Down the Rabbit HoleBall @The Epping Club
- Saturday, May 20th – Dave fighting at Revesby Workers Club (not confirmed)
Let me conclude today by giving a plug to two of the events mentioned above.
Firstly, I’m reclaiming the ‘Warrior Weekends’ name for our weekend health and fitness retreats at Binacrombi. I’m intending to charge $350 for first-timers once I finalise the system. For the moment though, a donation of $200 will be ample, and less if you can’t afford that. Book in now for April 21 to 23 and let me teach you my BLEST system, where ‘B’ is for ‘breathing’, as explained in the ‘Between Rounds’ video featured below.
Finally, rather than urge you once again to purchase tickets to the Down the Rabbit Hole fundraiser ball (which is only two weeks away), I’m going to let Professor Gigi Foster do it for me! Gigi is speaking alongside me at the ball, and I had the privilege of meeting her briefly today when I appeared on the tail end of her interview with Graham Hood and John Larter on Club Grubbery. You can see an image of the four of us together below but you’ll need to click here or the pic to see Gigi in action.
May the Lord bless and strengthen you for the work to which you have been called.
About Father Dave Smith
Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four