So it is the period after Easter Day. We enter into the Easter season after Holy Week where our liturgy has been filled with suspense with highs and lows as we walked with Jesus and the disciples to the cross.
I don’t know about you, but I often find the weeks after Easter Day to be ones where I am held in suspense in some way. I mean, where do we go from the great joys that Easter Day brings? It’s a similar feeling to when we experience a sudden death or great loss. So, in a way, this feeling is quite normal and to be expected. Where do we go from here is a question asked not only by the disciples, but but by anyone especially after the last couple of weeks.
Recently the country and world learned of the tragic accident in Saskatchewan where too many members of the Humboldt Broncos died in a head on collision. Lives changed and lives ended forever. There are precious few words that can capture a tragedy of this nature. In schools, online platforms and communities around the country we have all come together to mourn the death of so many young lives. We come together in solidarity with Humboldt and a sudden realization that this something that could have happened anytime, anywhere and to anyone. Tragedies such as this will always raise questions and doubts in the hearts of many.
No amount of money, no amount out-pouring sympathy will ever make things ‘right’ or bring back the lives of those who died. In a way, this is similar to what the disciples are going through. They have watched with their very eyes Jesus being questioned and ridiculed. They have gathered along the path as he made his way to Calvary and saw him being nailed to a cross and die a cruel death. They, like anyone or community that has experienced the death of a loved one or mentor gather together. They gather for comfort and solidarity in their grief as they come to terms in some way the tragedy they have witnessed.
What happens next? What were they supposed to do? Jesus had said and done a lot of things. Brave and noble things for sure. Many of his actions however were questionable and are what got him into trouble in the first place with the Romans. It is easy for doubt and uncertainty to set in the hearts and minds of the disciples.
Last week Thomas could not believe in the resurrection until he could place his hands in the wounds of Jesus. This week Jesus says to the disciples to look at his hands and feet (Luke 24: 39). It is really him. The question Jesus raises about why the disciples have doubts in their heart seems redundant (v. 38). Who wouldn’t have doubts when you have lived through something as recently as the disciples? So they gather close together, to be together as they come to terms with what is to happen next.
I am struck by how Jesus interacts with the disciples in this passage. Instead of saying, “come along now, there is still work to be done.” Instead he asks for food and receives a piece of fish to eat. How odd in a way. But in a way this also references what happened just a few days before when Jesus took bread, poured wine and shared in a meal with the disciples. What did Jesus say at that time - “do this in remembrance of me.” Jesus in a not-so-subtle way demonstrates by action what the disciples are supposed to do and what is supposed to happen next.
But it is still hard. No one meal, no one gathering or incident can ever replace tragic loss. Doubt is a natural human emotion. It is normal to doubt the future, the safety of our neighborhoods or anything else in life. We are programmed to doubt, to question and hold with suspicion actions and events that affect our lives. Often we gain doubts from past experiences where our trust or expectations have been broken. In many ways too, the events of Jesus’s life and death were a game changer not only for the disciples, but for everyone. No one expected Jesus to die. No expects the hero to die. But sometimes hero’s die.
What I learn in the immediate weeks following Easter is that it is okay to have doubts. It is okay to doubt when our expectations and trust are broken. Notice that Jesus doesn’t say, “don’t doubt, that’s foolish and wrong.” Rather he says, “why do you doubt?” That is different. Jesus invites us to examine the root cause of our doubts and to reflect on why we may doubt and then to act in ways where we can overcome our fear and doubt so we can embrace the new life that God invites us into.