Low Sunday 2021

My dear friends in Jesus Christ,

Welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog!

Glorious late Spring sunsets. The light lingers longer. A grieving Monarch who has so much to be grateful for, but must feel it a mixed blessing once the love of your life, your rock is no longer within reach. Her faith will keep her gaze fixed on the life to come, promised by a Saviour who understands the human heart from the inside.And this Sunday we listen to the story of dear doubting Thomas who wasn’t there at first, but then came back. Where had he been? How was he coping? How was he not coping? Even the strong have their breaking point, the point at which they say, ‘Enough  . . . . ‘. Thomas had reached that point, and gone beyond it. And Jesus came back for him because He’d not forgotten why He’d chosen him, why He wanted him to be counted among the Twelve. Thomas mattered, so Jesus came back for him, and picked him out for some special words and some special attention, and what a difference it has made for us all! I can’t imagine St.John’s Gospel without this story.An individual’s struggling faith can make them something of a liability for the Church, but Jesus turns it round, and the one struggling becomes an asset. There’s a big lesson for us all. Jesus showed dear Thomas His wounds. That’s something important right away. Jesus rose from the dead not as a pristine figure, as if the Passion had not happened. He carried the wounds. It would have been so easy for Him to say, ‘Look at these and remember how much you hurt me’. That would have served to make the disciples ashamed, driving home the guilt. Instead, He showed His wounds and seemed to say to Thomas, ‘Look at these wounds, and know how much I love you’.Wounds are a fact in our lives. If we live, we will be wounded; if we love we will be wounded more. But a miracle occurs, and they are changed from evidence of violence and betrayal into something perhaps even beautiful. At the Easter Vigil, as the great candle is prepared and marked before being lit, the following words are used, ‘By His Holy and Glorious Wounds, may Christ the Lord guard us, and protect us. Amen’. Thank-you Thomas, for your honesty in admitting your doubt, and for accepting this miracle of love.My blessing goes out to each of you struggling with the wounds of doubt and with all the other wounds inflicted on those who try to live and love. May you too share the miracle Christ worked for Thomas.

+Paul Swarbrick.

Bishop of Lancaster.