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Sermons > First Sunday after Easter

11 Apr 2010

“The other disciples said to [Thomas], ‘We have seen the Lord.’”  (John 20:25)

In the name …

Information, I don’t think, is the same as knowledge.  I typed in Charlemagne on Google.  I don’t even know why I chose him.  He was a random thought that popped into my mind from some dark, dusty corner of my memory.  But within 0.2 seconds that internet search engine had provided me with nearly 7 million different information sites about this first king of France.  But all of this information hasn’t impressed me enough to form my own opinion of the man and his accomplishments.  I haven’t put my imprint on the information.  I haven’t, in other words, turned into knowledge.  In a couple weeks, Charlemagne is going to recede back into that dusty corner of my memory from whence it snuck out.  Information can be shared at lightning speeds and in unbelievably vast amounts, but knowledge isn’t a necessary consequence of all that shared information.

  Knowledge is a choice to put information to use.  This requires independent thinking.  Others can supply information, but knowledge is our own personal endeavour.  Knowledge is creative not just accumulative.  Different people can take the same information and come to completely different conclusions because of the creative and personal aspect of knowledge.  Knowledge means that we have become impressed enough with the information that we play with it.  We ask questions of it.  We wonder how it impacts on other bits of information.  We imagine how it would look if we changed it in one way or another.  We dialogue with others who have the same information and again our knowledge is affected and maybe even changes.  Knowledge means that we care enough about the information so that we make it our own.

  And for this transition to happen we have to choose to devote our time and attention to it.  Information can be instantaneous, but not knowledge. Knowledge makes huge demads of our time and energy. You know, if you’re working on some sort of a project that involves concentration, and you’re interrupted by an isolated phone call or a knock on the door, or that seemingly constant ring-tone of people who text message, you’re not distracted only for the few seconds involved in actually responding.  It takes a significant amount of time to regain your level of concentration.  So in a world where we are constantly confronted by information interruptions, knowledge is becoming more and more distinct from information because we have to make it a priority. What information we choose to give our attention to is becoming ever more consequential.  Our choices will leave some information in the dusty corners of our memory and will allow others to flourish as important to us.

There’s a whole lot of information out there in our connected world.  We simply cannot process it all.  And who knows where that information revolution will take us in the near future.  Last summer my recreational-read was Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge.  He’s an award-winning writer who takes current trends and translates them forward.  The book depicts our world just 20 years from now.  He envisions a world only two decades away of omnipresent information that will make today’s internet look like smoke signals.  If he’s anywhere near the mark, then information will be cheap and knowledge will be even more selective.  Our choice, then, of what information to process and care about will become more and more important.

In this way, the disciple Thomas stands as a precursor for all of us as we read today of his insistent disbelief when it comes to the information shared by the other 10 disciples that Jesus has resurrected.  The other 10 disciples shared information with him, but Thomas at this point could not make it his own.  He could not invest himself in the information and work with it.  The information may have been too much to process.  Psychologically Thomas was not prepared for Jesus’ death, and he seems no more prepared for the astounding information of Jesus’ resurrection either.  We know that he will come to believe through that cathartic, reflexive and emotional release of “My Lord and my God!” when Thomas finally sees Jesus for himself, but the real focus of the story is what happens next when Jesus says for all of us:  “‘[Thomas] have you come to believe because you have seen me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.’” (20:29)

In a world of ever increasing information, our choices of what we count important and choose to make our own, those topics we invest with our knowledge through our time, contemplation and dialogue, these choices will become increasingly critical.  Our choice will be life or death to a subject that comes before us.   So the question for us today is whether we will choose to make the choice to concentrate on knowing Christ so that He can be a real and meaningful part of our lives because if we settle for anything less then Jesus is just locked away in our memories with Charlemagne and all those other passing thoughts that don’t really make much of a difference in our lives.  A lot of people encountered information about Jesus on Easter Sunday, but that’s not the same as making Jesus important.  Today’s Gospel encounter with Thomas makes clear that information is not enough.  The other ten disciples could not make the choice of believing in Easter for Thomas no matter how strenuously they told him about the resurrection.  That choice to believe, to really know Jesus, had to be made by Thomas himself.  We likewise have to choose what we will believe in.  No one else can do this for us no mater how much information they share.  We have to make the choice to believe.  So let us pray this morning that Christ and Church be among those choices that we invest ourselves in and select as meaningful in our lives because we don’t want to settle for only knowing about Jesus.  We want to know Jesus.  For this we pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.  (+) 

Fr. Randolph Calvo


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