Second Sunday of Easter
Poor Thomas. Singled out from among the disciples because he refused to believe what they were telling him—that they had seen, in the flesh, their friend and their Lord, Jesus Christ. Can any of us really blame him? All of the disciples were terrified, crestfallen, hiding. But what of Thomas? Just where was he when Jesus appeared the first time to the group huddled in fear? He had gone “out”—out of the community where his faith had life. Maybe this was actually a blessing for Thomas and not the curse associated with the “doubting Thomas” moniker bestowed on him by tradition. Oh, the divine mercy of the Lord! Could Thomas be the forerunner of all of us who come in fragile hope and uncertainty to the Christian community, so beautifully described in the reading from the Acts of the Apostles? Could Thomas be an ultimate exemplar of the faith described in the First Letter of Peter?
YOU SHOULD’VE BEEN THERE!
Most of us have had the misfortune of missing something important simply by being absent, and then hearing about what happened. In today’s reading, unique to John’s Gospel, Thomas is the only apostle who was not around when Jesus appeared to his friends for the first time after his death and resurrection. They were frightened and grieving, not knowing what would happen to them. Remember, they found themselves to be fugitives, seemingly guilty by association with a criminal executed by government officials. Suddenly, Jesus was with them, beaming peace and mercy to his fragile followers. What joy! What a shock, too!
We will never know why Thomas had left their hiding place. All we know is that he returned to wild stories about Jesus being alive after dying a brutal death. He must have thought that the other apostles in their grief had a shared delusion of what they wished were true. When Thomas finally saw Jesus, he gave what is considered the most profound profession of faith: “My Lord and my God!” In his tender mercy, Jesus ministered to Thomas by helping him to see for himself.
WE WALK BY FAITH
But what of us? The early Christian community could only trust the words of these same apostles, the ones Thomas couldn’t believe, when they preached Jesus Christ risen from the dead. Who could believe what they said? The Holy Spirit, breathed upon the disciples in that first encounter, emanated so powerfully from them that they were able to convene seemingly utopian communities of faith. Filled with “divine mercy,” their lives became an evangelization to the world.
And this is how we too are sent out, like the disciples, filled with the Holy Spirit and bearing the Lord’s peace and mercy to a troubled, suffering world. The wounds of Jesus are very real today in the needy and broken. May we always work to bind up those wounds wherever we find them.
Today’s Readings: Acts 2:42–47; Ps 118:2–4, 13–15, 22–24; 1 Pt 1:3–9; Jn 20:19–31
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