For days after the crucifixion the disciples gathered in a locked room. The recent violence of what we now call Holy Week had made them security conscious. They had become runaways from a society that they feared as hostile, so they lock themselves away in what they hoped was a safe house. We know a lot more about lock down this year than we did this time last. Our legitimate fear of contacting or passing on Covit 19 has forced us all into safe places. What were they doing as they whiled their time away? This we are not told but it is safe to suppose that they were not engaged in idle chatter, but more about recent happenings, where their hopes had been shattered and their dreams had become one long nightmare. The physical doors were tightly closed but doors of the heart slowly began to open as they shared their feelings with each other. As those heart doors swung open the Risen Jesus entered with his gift of peace.
It’s a horrible place to be when we get locked in on ourselves, when we withdraw into isolation and cut ourselves off from others. There are few of us who will not have had the experience and that’s when our world becomes very small. Prior to this outbreak, as a society, we were moving more and more into unconscious isolation, whereas now its something we are very conscious of and generally dont like all that much. It would be nice to think that when we come through this we will be much more conscious of the value of living in community and upholding community values that we were losing so fast.
One of the telltale signs of unresolved grief is where the departed is treated as if he or she never existed and not talked about openly and honestly. Notice that it was as the disciples talked about their grief and expressed it to each other that the risen Christ appeared. When grief is properly addressed it allows the presence of the departed to remein with us in spirit.
In that Gospel today you will notice that Thomas, the one who had isolated himself, had the greatest difficulty in coming to believe in the Risen Jesus. This suggests quite strongly that community rather than isolation is the most fertile soill for faith to come alive and to grow.
When we are feeling good we are quite happy to allow others to come near to us but when we are hurting or in pain we tend to cut ourselves off. We don’t want to have our sore spots touched. We want to be left alone to lick our wounds. While this is understandable it is also a mistake. How can healing happen if we will not allow our wounds to be seen and touched. The human heart can only be healed by Christ but Christ in the presence of another human being who understands human pain.
That piece of scripture contains some wonderful teaching on how to come to terms with the bigger issues of life. The real danger is that we simply don’t talk, that we close down and lock ourselves away in isolation. In so many families and individual lives there is a huge legacy of unresolved issues. We talk about everything except what needs to be talked about. Its like the old story of the elephant in the living room that everybody knows is there but nobody mentions for fear of others getting upset. It’s the things we don’t talk about that create barriers to communication, and sooner rather than later, we find ourselves isolated with nothing to talk about. Even the small talk seems to run dry. There are so many families where communication is almost non-existent because somewhere along the line something big was swept under the carpet and not addressed. Isolation is the inevitable legacy of not addressing issues as they arise and so we engage in non-versation about trivialities but lose the vital art of conversation.