Signpost for Sunday 23rd April 2017, Easter 2, Low Sunday: Acts 2. 14a, 22-32; Psalm 16. 1 Peter 1. 3-9; Jn 20. 19-31.
Low Sunday, the day we come back down to earth after the heights of Easter Day! The Gospel begins with John’s version of Pentecost. So much happens in the period from the Palm Sunday ride into Jerusalem, that we cannot comprehend it even in eight days. We spread it out to try and cover it. We extend it to Pentecost, which is where Luke places the giving of the Spirit. Mark does not feature the giving of the Spirit at all, and Matthew sends the disciples back to their village at this point. (The time line for the Gospels seems to be Mark, Matthew/Luke, John; and start to finish is several decades.)
However, John places it in the evening of Easter day, though in the Lectionary we defer consideration of it by a week. John also differs from his predecessor by omitting the mighty wind (YHWH moving in creation?) and substituting an appearance of the Risen Lord himself.
I like it that this reading speaks of Thomas. His experience speaks to us, not on the high mountain but in the midst of the mundane. He is the apostle who said, “Let’s go to Jerusalem with him and die if we must.”
Thomas is the Patron Saint of all who experience doubts, which includes a great number of people. Doubts are human; doubts are permissible; doubts are part of a living faith. And the first chapter of Acts is the last we hear of Thomas. The New Testament writings are very much oriented to the Greek and Roman churches. History is written by the winners?
Yet Thomas may be one of the very influential Apostles. He is regarded as the Apostle to India. There are no documentary sources to confirm this, but the Church in India has been known as the Mar Thoma Church for longer that we have records. There is some archeological evidence of the Church in India in the First Century.
1 Peter may have been written to churches in Asia Minor, but some scholars suggest that it began its life as an Easter Sermon. In the early church, new members went through a lengthy catechumenate and were often baptized on Easter Day.
The reading from Acts is from Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, and he quotes Psalm 16, so the readings connect together more than they do some Sundays.