Fair warning, this is not my usual fare for posting. As it happens I am in my office waiting for a parishioner when I came across this article. Here is the setup. Do you remember the chewing gum chiclets (it has its own Wiki page)? The brand was introduced in 1900 by the American Chicle Company, a company founded by Thomas Adams. Do you remember the Alamo? The Mexican general at the Alamo was General Antonio López de Santa Anna – or as he in know, General Santa Anna, later in his life he was a next door neighbor to Adams on Staten Island. Chicle was a native product in Santa Anna’s home territory. He thought it would be a great alternative to rubber. That did not work out, but chewing gum did. You can read the “too strange not to be true” story here.
It is a familiar gospel, a well-known story. It is an episode of “Doubting Thomas.” The one held up for us as an example of what not to be – the one who doubted Jesus. “Don’t be a Doubting Thomas!” we are warned because that leaves you one step away from being Judas.
What other gospel stories do you know about Thomas? Sadly, most people only know this one episode. This is the same Thomas who otherwise is depicted in the Gospel according to John as authentic, straight-forward, sincere, and even courageous. In the 11th chapter of John, Thomas is the one who urged all the disciples to go with Jesus to the home of the now-deceased Lazarus even thought it might mean their deaths (Jn. 11:16). And in chapter 14, when Thomas doesn’t understand Jesus’ metaphorical speech about the place he is going to, Thomas does not do the holy nod – you know, “Jesus said it, I don’t get it, I am not even curious, so I will just nod.” Thomas asks the practical: “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Even when he doesn’t get it or knows the consequences, Thomas is faithful to Jesus and the mission. And then Thomas’ world crumbles: Jesus dies on the cross.
Life can be breathless. Sometimes we need to take a breath and see how far we have come; to ponder our successes, our failings, all the hurdles we jumped, disasters we dodged, and things that we accomplished. As strange as it might seem, the Easter Season can be a time to think about Lent. At the beginning of Lent the classic refrain is “What are you giving up?” One parishioner who loves chocolate gave it up entirely for Lent. I asked, “Did that bring you closer to God?” The response was, “Not really. I just end up being cranky and miserable for all of Lent.” I am pretty sure that was not the hoped-for result. Within the tradition of prayer, alms giving, and fasting, there needs to be a path that makes room in your life for our God who is ever close to us. Continue reading