A reflection for Sunday 10th May 2020 – The Fifth Sunday of Easter
Revd. Pat Lodge
Oh, my goodness, what an appropriate reading for the current times that we’re living in!
This is a Gospel reading that we may well be very familiar, partly because it often used in the funeral service, and the reason for that is that it is such a comforting reading. It reminds us that Jesus is with us on the journey of life, that he loves us and cares for us particularly when we are sad, lonely, confused and troubled, and that he prepares the way ahead for us.
Before the disciples heard Jesus speak these words to them they knew that there were dark days ahead for them. There they were, closeted in an upper room. It had all been going so well. They would have been planning for a future following Jesus, and helping him in his work. And then, suddenly, their world fell apart. Judas betrayed Jesus to Caiaphas. Jesus was arrested and crucified. Peter had denied even knowing Jesus three times, just as Jesus had said he would, and they had no idea what was ahead of them. For their own safety, they had locked themselves away in fear, in sadness and in apprehension about the future. Ring any bells?
I think that situation chimes with all of us at the moment. Our world was chugging along quite happily. We were making plans for the rest of the year ahead and all was well till, suddenly, this dreadful virus sweeps through our world and stops us all in our tracks. Don’t we feel that fear and apprehension for the future that the disciples felt as we keep our distance from family, friends and neighbours, closeted away as we are in our homes as much as possible? I know I have.
And then Jesus comes to comfort them and to show them the way forward, just as he does with us. He lets them know that he’s with them, and asks them to trust in God the Father and in himself, just as he does us. He tells them to hang on by putting their faith in him, just as he tells us. He assures his disciples that he will be going ahead of them to prepare the way for them, just as he does us.
Thomas, perhaps harshly nicknamed Doubting – for wasn’t he in exactly the same boat that we’re in now in wanting to know more – wants some detail about what’s going to happen in the future? What does Jesus mean by telling them that they know the way they must go? And where is Jesus going? He needs to know so that he knows where to follow him. And then we hear, as the disciples did, those words of infinite comfort, strength, support and healing, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”
No matter what we have to face in these dark and difficult days, no matter how long this uncertainty goes on for, we have Jesus’s assurance that he will be with us always, that he is there to help us on the onward journey from here, and that by following him will we have God’s promise of eternal life – and I think that’s a tremendous comfort right now.
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.
And he replied: Go out into the darkness
And put your hand in the Hand of God
That shall be to you better than a light
And safer than a known way.
from Desert by Minnie Louise Haskins