Week 4 Day 2: Trusting in Jesus (Thomas)
“Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’”
Trusting in Jesus (Thomas)
Drenching our hands with holy water, filling our noses with the fragrance of incense smoke, taking hold of our friends and strangers when we exchange the peace in church, we are inspired to go out into the world to see and to take hold of Jesus so that we can really follow him and live in intimate union with him.
-Br. Keith Nelson
From the 20th chapter of the Gospel according to John, “Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt, but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God.'”
“My Lord and my God.” For me this is really the key to this passage, the key that opens a whole world, a whole inner universe of intimate union with Jesus. So when we’re praying for this grace to learn from Jesus’ followers what it means to live in intimate union with Jesus, we have an incredibly rich example in Thomas and his dramatic “before and after.”
Thomas, who before was probably resentful, maybe angry, definitely isolated, was dropped into a new level, a deeper level of intimate union with Jesus by returning to his community, and by accepting the invitation of Jesus to touch him. So when I think about what this passage can mean for our life as followers of Jesus seeking to live in intimate union with him, I think about the difference between trying to do the Christian life as an isolated individual, which really doesn’t work in my experience and in our experience as a community. And I think about a wholehearted engagement with Christian community. So I think about the practice of going to church. Going to church when you feel like it, but definitely going to church when you don’t feel like it. Showing up, being there because Jesus is there in the assembled Body, the whole community, which is stronger than the individual alone.
I also think about the example in this passage, the spiritual wisdom in this passage, a full-bodied engagement with liturgical worship. So drenching our hands with holy water, filling our noses with the fragrance of incense smoke, taking hold of our friends and strangers when we exchange the peace in church, and then being inspired to go out into the world to see and to take hold of Jesus so that we can really follow him and live in intimate union with him.
So a practice of prayer that I engage in in my own prayer journal is I have a red pen and I have a blue pen. The blue pen is me; the red pen is Jesus. So I write in my blue pen in a really uncensored, honest kind of way, the same uncensored honesty that we see in Thomas. And then I stop and I listen and I wait to hear what Jesus has to say in response to me, and often I use specific titles, specific nicknames for Jesus, and as I’ve come to listen in this practice, there are nicknames, titles, names for me that Jesus uses in reply. So you might try something like that in your prayer journal. Have a color for Jesus, have a color for you, and have a truly intimate conversation.
We invite you to share your answer in the comments below or using #MeetingJesus
Thank you so much. Very useful to write in two colours, one colour for me, and one for Jesus’ reply. I will start to practice it. Appreciate these videos which have become part of my daily devotional
This reflection touches on some important things: My Lord , my God and the intimate union we have with him; the importance of being part of a Christian community and building relationships with Jesus and one another; praying as a way to talk to Jesus in dialogue. Thank you for this, given as a something to reflect deeply upon.
S H A R E
S top and listen and wait to
H ear the Word of our Lord
A lthough the doors are shut He is sways there
R elationship is the key to Love and Peace
E ngage in your Christian community
I believe, Jesus. Even in my doubts, I believe. I am firmly planted on a path that is leading me toward you. Sometimes I falter and even fall, but you, in your great love and mercy, pick me up and set me back on your path – everytime.
My Lord and my God, Jesus – my deeply hidden treasure,
Over the past four days you brought to the fore-front of my mind, the nature, responsibilities and implications of my being called to serve you in the world. You discerned in me, both from afar and in penetrating intimacy, through all the ways I live, breath, think and act, the purpose and point of my ministry, and the ways I can be of better service to you and others. But, in response I opened myself up to you, and asked the question, “What is the price of knowing and serving you?” And your answer startled me, just as it did the rich young man who asked how to attain the Kingdom of Heaven. You said, “the price of following me is your life… everything that you are… I can accept nothing less than your entire life…” So, Lord, I come to the realization that all I believed to be mine, all that I considered as belonging to me in terms of what I call my life – belongs truly, emphatically, absolutely to you alone – for have you not given everything to me in the first place, including the free gift of life itself? Yes, all the senses, perceptions, thoughts and feelings, all the material possessions, the home, the spouse and children, fine clothes and food, the mundane and the spectacular – you are the source of all that I love and enjoy, all that I use and employ in this life. Of course, you do not yourself need these things, but you demand that I recognize their origin in you – and that I am prepared, with mind, body and soul to give them up and surrender them back – for in doing so I am able to understand and comprehend the true inner nature of my poverty in the face of all that you are. Through this you enable me to come to terms with death; that at the point of my death to this world I will be left with nothing – not anything that I have accumulated in this life can stop, prevent or save me from that moment – only you, you alone can break through that darkness and lift me through to the light of eternal life.
Lord, Christ, Balancer of Life,
In the darkness, you called me into your light, you appointed me, you set me on a sure path – a pilgrimage toward the Temple of the Heart, to see, to behold the very nature of existence. You guided me through doubt and disbelief with sure proofs, you let me examine the evidence – just like your disciple Thomas. You showed me through the contemplation of my own scars, bruises and pain that you too suffered as I have, and that there is an answer to all that causes me to renounce faith and belief, and you brought me back to the loving embrace of your light and hope. Lord, Surely, there is no foundation of faith without being plunged into the darkness of doubt. Lord, there is no exultant and supreme joy that has not experienced tragedy and loss… and found belonging, and purpose and meaning.
You urge me to communicate your love to others in the world, but I feel stretched and pushed beyond my understanding, I feel incapable with this task… but in knowing that having surrendered myself to you, that through your will, and only by your strength I can perform such work. I can only claim your voice, your word living within me, to utter your testimony to the world.
We weep in our own
Locked within ourselves
Spirit of resolve
An emboldening light
Confirms, and anoints
I pray for all prisoners, captives, slaves and those forced into labor against their will. May the true light of Life move through the walls of their jails, shackles and chains, and pierce the darkness surrounding their minds and hearts and lead them to the true embodiment of liberation – freedom that does not recognize borders, restraints, restrictions or limitations. Amen.
Pax Christi – David
I have written in a prayer journal for 33 years. It represents to me my most intimate moments with God. I bring everything that troubles me before him. I pour out to him my overwhelming gratitude for all his blessings. I become grounded in his steadfastness, because left to my own devices, my tendency is to forget all he’s done for me in the past, and then start worrying about the future. I learn to let go over and over again all that I am not in control of. I lift up to him and lay at his feet those I worry terribly about. I hear his voice, not audibly, but deep within my heart as I pray how I can be his hands, feet, arms, eyes, ears, and heart in the world. He leads me and guides me on a daily basis. My prayer journal is “holy ground”.
Thank you brothers for his amazing Lenten meditation.
Bless you, Brother Keith. I like the idea of the nicknames, for Jesus, for you, for me, or anyone. It seems that offering and receiving the nicknames goes well with the practice to looking closely at a picture or icon of Jesus and looking closely at one’s own reflection in a mirror, which I have also heard you describe. I also like your reminding us of finding intimacy with Jesus by finding a kind of intimacy within the Body of Christ, its liturgy and it people. Of course, not all intimacy within the Body can be of the same level or nature with everyone and certainly not usually of the same physical touching that Jesus allowed Thomas, but it can be a deep intimacy with everyone when we engage with each other in deep vulnerability that comes from not working to promote or defend some small separate self. Thank you.
I love my friends and family dearly, but none of them are Christians or attend Church. They are very respectful of my beliefs and I thank God everyday for their tolerance. Secular society can be very intolerant and downright cruel to the Christian world view. That’s why I can’t wait for Sunday to arrive. I’m in a loving, compassionate, and Bible-based Church where everyone is open to the Word of The Lord. So, what’s so surprising about that, you ask? I’ve been a member of a Church that was full of cultural Christians who never spoke a word about our Lord. They were more interested in Church event’s, activities, and the daily news to discuss the healing word of God. So when you find a congregation who loves Jesus in word and action, practices Bible-based teachings, and a has a sound liturgy, grasped it in both arms and never let it go.
The importance of attending a church service/liturgy even when you don’t feel like it struck a chord with me. The time of peace often feels like a coffee hour inserted into the middle of the service, but I clearly see how intimate it really can be when our eyes are opened to experience Jesus’ presence in our midst!
Acknowledging my short comings, a constant in my prayers for as long as I can remember is ‘teach me to love’. Now the cast around my heart is cracking and the light is coming in. Thank you SSJE and to everyone for their comments not only of faith, but of weakness.
I, like Thomas, struggle to believe wholeheartedly. I yearn for my faith to be total; to walk with Jesus as my friend, my protector, my redeemed! This program helps to remind me that Jesus is always with me on a good day and through a dark day… Always. As Simon was singled out by Jesus to feed his lambs, so am I as an individual asked to be with Jesus and to bring others to Him through my day-to-day actions. Thank you for helping me to see God on everything on this earth, and helping me look forward to when I will meet Him and the Father face to face.
The first words Jesus said to his disciples were: « Peace be with you. I am astonished that he didn’t say let go and catch these people who hurt me, dispised me, shamed me and killed me. No -he said Peace Be with You. He reconciled the world of Violence and Hatred to Peace and Love for One Another. He surely, is My God and my Lord.
I would like to have a friend subscribe to receive these daily emails, but wr cannot find a way to do this. Where can one sign up to receive this?
Mary, here is the link:
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To-day’s passage is most perplexing. Jesus invites us to doubt. Something that I think we must do if we are to undestand fully what it means to follow Christ Jesus. Thomas ceased to doubt, but the question remains: “Did Thomas actually follow Jesus’s command to put his finger into Jesus’s hand and to put his hand into Jesus’s side?”. Or did simply the giving of the command or the hearing it resolve Thomas’s doubts. Doubting helps me to search and, by God’s grace, to find him. In doubting, I am, as Keith Alfred wrote in his comment, asking for God’s help and, as Keith concluded his comment: “He is always there, day by day.”.
Your friend can bookmark this site: https://meetingjesusinjohn.org/video-meditations/
and scroll down to listen to each day’s meditation.
In the 1960s Ira Progoff developed the Intensive Journal Method which he described in his book, ‘In A Journal Workshop.” Over the years I’ve adapted his method when I’ve needed to work through an issue with a person or event in my life. As Br. Keith suggests, I take a pen for Me, and a pen for Other; my journal looks like I have written a play. I also have a little book just for my dialog with Jesus.
Thank you for the reminder to return to this way.
Thank you for today’s message. I too appreciate God’s presence in our church community and the thought of interacting with Jesus through our relationship with each other. There are sandpaper moments when interacting with each other but Jesus is in all of these moments to guide and teach as a shepherd guiding his sheep.
When a friend suggested that I communicate with Jesus in this way I rejected the idea, saying that I thought it would be just my own imagination responding — to which she said, ‘And who do you think created your imagination?’ Made sense to me!
Years ago, when a friend suggested that I try this way of communicating with Jesus, I rejected the idea, arguing that Jesus’ response was just my own imagination responding. Her response was/is: “Who do you think created your imagination? Why would you think God wouldn’t use it to communicate with you? Made sense to me! I have found this a very powerful way to be in communion with Jesus. I don’t do it every day, but when I feel ‘called’ to do it. If I don’t respond to the invitation within a reasonable time I know that I am resisting God’s gift of presence to me.
I don’t know how many of you will believe this, but I am a Christian Mystic. At first I thought I was going crazy but a Christian therapist helped me to understand what actually was happening. I define it as loving the mystery but others would say that it is listening to God through experiences. My favorite book of the Bible is Revelation . A couple of spots where I have had mystical experiences are Falling Water in Pennsylvania and Rockport, Massachusetts. Also I sometimes get them in a concert but seldom in church. Ther seems to need to be a sense of unexpected expectation. Thank you, Jesus, for all of your gifts.
As I commented yesterday, I am still at an impasse with respect to feeling, communicating and responding to Jesus. In the Holy Trinity he is an embodiment of God, the Father made flesh for us to better grasp his moral code, love and compassion, and to accept his forgiveness. Jesus continues to teach me about God; he taught us the Lord’s Prayer. Church is a community and Ministry united in the Trinity and I get great comfort from drawing on the combined faith of the congregation in finding serenity. However, I find that my ancestors, principally my parents, are my main interlocutors with God in my prayers .
Incidentally, I like the Pope Francis’ recent amendment of the Lord’s Prayer to rectify a translation error ….. “and do not let us fall into temptation” or more succinctly “keep us from temptation”. In an interview he said “It is not a good translation because it speaks of a God who induces temptation” ….. “I am the one who falls. It’s not him pushing me into temptation to then see how I have fallen. “A father doesn’t do that, a father helps you to get up immediately. “It’s Satan who leads us into temptation, that’s his department.”
Wow! My morning is full of wonderful thoughts and strategies thanks to this devotional. I am always in awe of the way the devotional and the comments bring me closer to God. Thank you all!
Interesting! I have a Lectio Divina journal. It developed from the Lectio group I attend weekly. When God speaks to me, I surround the words with quotation marks. I am continually surprised at what appears. Often not at all what I would have considered on my own.
God speaks messages, but not words to me…
I love your words about journaling with Jesus and the colored pens. Its reinforcing for me bc I’ve secretly done this for years. Jesus is blue, Bible is red, my words are black. Thank you so much for sharing!
This Lenten series is wonderful, real, passionate and so helpful. It is a testimony to the work you have put into this project over the last years – I’m not sure how many. But I’ve done them all. Individually and as a group you have grown in your capacity to deliver in this medium. Thank you so much. You are a blessing.
I ask God to help me to walk with Him, as I know He is always there, day by day.
Focussing on the day in front of me is what counts, and trusting in Him to guide me in my actions.