As any parent knows, holding your newborn child for the first time brings profound joy. And every parent also knows, deep down, that you have done nothing to create such beauty; you feel blessed to receive such a heavenly gift. And the only authentic response to a true gift is gratitude.
And yet every birth must come through suffering, every newborn is the result of deep pain. For profound gratitude for new life is not mere pleasure in getting what we want, profound gratitude comes because the suffering itself was fruitful, the pain of the cross prepared the joy of new life.
Thomas, in our gospel this week (John 20) knew of this profound gratitude for not only did he rejoice in the reality of the Risen One, but by feeling His wounds as proof, he rejoiced in the true meaning of suffering, that it too is a gift, that that the true mission of suffering is always labor. And this is why tears of joy are so truly human. For tears of joy express a gratitude for both new life and the blessing of pregnant pain.
What if the foundation of our life wasn’t the balance on our bank account, or the place where we live or the job that we do – what if the foundation of our life was this kind of profound gratitude? What if everything that we have, everything we receive, like the newborn, is a gift? What if all our pain and suffering is meant to be there because each one of us is actually pregnant with a deeper self? What if tears of joy flowed daily from our eyes? How would we speak? How would we walk? How would we live?
For at the Easter altar, the centerpiece of our spiritual life, we hear proclaimed that each human heart is actually meant to beat with gratitude – to breath joy – to pulse with grace.
This is because resurrection, new life, even for Christ, is always received from the Father. And learning to receive the gift in every moment is what it means to become a human being.
Therefore, dear friends, let us practice this receiving. Let us receive the gift of communion as newborn life and surrender our hearts in gratitude to God.
This contemplation by Rev. Evans is inspired by the Apostle Thomas rejoicing in the Risen One and by the birth of Isla Charis.