Dazed and Confused: Moving beyond the Historial Jesus

Led Zeppelins track called "Dazed and Confused" is the perfect title to describe the mentality of the disciples who were struggling to make sense of the resurrection of Jesus.

Today we hear about how John highlights the early struggles of the disciples of Jesus.  We hear that they are full of doubt.  For John, the theme of doubt is closely related to maturing in faith—they are, in fact, interrelated and necessary as we discover in the next act.

So before we get to doubting Thomas, let us get to the unnamed disciples who locked themselves in an upper room out fear.  These disciples were naturally seized with fear because they were fugitives of faith from the Jewish authorities.   Despite, Mary’s proclamation about experiencing the risen Christ, these disciples kept themselves hidden as they knew shame, insult and even death were knocking at their door. 

These disciples were full of confusion and, yes, serious doubt about the stories being circulated concerning Jesus’s appearances—fake news, no doubt.  Despite, Jesus appearing among the midst of these disciples and sneakily getting into a locked room, Jesus states that peace is now with them.  Yet, these disciples still needed to see the wounds of Jesus to really understand that it was, indeed, Jesus of Nazareth raised from the dead.  Only then are these disciples filled with the peace of God. 

Jesus, then, commissions his followers, like Mary Magdalene, to proclaim this good news to a new generation of believers who will not experience the physical Jesus.  They are empowered with the Holy Spirit to forgive sins and to bring the love of Christ to the world the way in which Jesus did for them. 

Remember Jesus was quick to forgive the disciples who were quite clumsy in understanding His teachings, failed to even keep prayer and vigil in Jesus’ hour of need and even denying they were followers of Christ during his false conviction.  The Holy Spirit will continue to help their memory of Christ, and bring his presence in both Word and Eucharist and the forgiveness of sins to the world.  It is strange and, paradoxically, hopeful that Jesus commissions these less than ideal candidates and even comical disciples of God to continue Jesus mission. 

And, yet, in a slightly more humorous twist, we find those disciples eight days later upstairs in a room.  Granted the door is not locked this time, but, they are not exactly rolling up their sleeves and getting to work.  So far all we know is that they are trying to convince Thomas that they have seen the risen Jesus.

As we have heard, Thomas had not experienced the resurrected Christ until eight days later.  Thomas is a rational man and it was, apparently, important that the disciples try to convince him to believe.  Thomas could not accept the concept of resurrection. 

He thought the messiah was to bring about a revolution in the form of war that would restore the Israelites back to the Promised Land or through religious reform.  For Thomas, it was not the message of the historical Jesus that he had a problem with, rather, it was the new revelation that Jesus was raised from the dead that he struggled with because it was not rational. 

Yet, Thomas was still willing to be open to the experience.  He did not allow his faculties of reason or his heart to be a shut and locked door.  Thomas was moved to keep the slightest crack of the door to his mind and heart open so as to let the glimmer of God’s light in.  Thus, he continued to hang out with this seemingly, delusional pack of faith fugitives.  He was willing to see how this would all play out.  The words of the historical Jesus had compelled Thomas’ heart to follow Christ, thus, the Word and memories of the historical Jesus kept him there.

However, Thomas is not ready to fully commit to what he has heard from the others—it is just insanely too good to be true.  Therefore, he puts conditions on what he willing to believe.  He must touch the wounds of Jesus to believe that this was, indeed, Jesus of Nazareth.  We know what happens next.  We don’t know even know if Thomas had touched Jesus’s wounds.  What we do know is like Mary Magdalene, when Thomas experienced the risen Jesus; Thomas utters the most christologically profound statement in John’s gospel: “My Lord and My God!”  Jesus is not just a teacher, a rabbi, a past historical reality.  Jesus is truly risen and living God in the here and now, and the rational Thomas has fully realized this in faith!  Faith and reason become cornerstones for the spiritual life.

It is clear that doubt can touch anyone of us at anytime in our faith journey.  But doubt is more of a learning tool, a spiritual necessary to experience God.  Sometimes because of our doubt we will put conditions on our faith, when life gets darker than we can handle.  Yet, Jesus’ self gift of love makes up for how fragile we are.   The risen Jesus overcomes the condition we try to set with God and Christ forgives us when we struggle to understand or shy away from sharing in His life. 

We have been imparted with the gift of the Holy Spirit who will guide us to memories of how Jesus walks with us, how Jesus is with us, and how the risen Jesus has not abandoned us in our hour of need.  We are also given the gifts of Jesus’ presence when we gather as a community of believers, in the Word of God, and in the Eucharist and sacraments of the Church. 

God challenges us to be to Christ’s love.  A love that is joyful and very forgiving of failings.  If we are truly open to the Risen Christ experience, we will be willing to acknowledge our own failings before God and others; and, thus, be prompted to lavishly share the forgiveness, the peace and the love of Christ that is beyond reason and faith comprehension.  This is a gift that has been given to us by our God, a gift that is meant to be given to the world by us.  Amen. Alleluia! 


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