The Gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter engages us with evidence for the Resurrection and justification of faith.
In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.
‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’
After saying this he breathed on them and said:
‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’
Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord’, he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him:
‘You believe because you can see me.
Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’
There were many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name.
We need to pass ourselves through the valley of the shadow of death, and learn the truth of the Gospel, the Resurrection, to come to a personal relationship with the Risen Jesus. We will not see, touch and so on like Thomas, but the Gospel warns us of that. But we come to know him in our prayer, in our journey, in the stirring of our heart in response to the gift of the Spirit, of his real presence. It’s something we can become more sensitive to over time.
Thomas with his struggles can be our help and guide here too.
And we need him. For when we are exhausted by the mess, and the disappointment, and the hurt, and the loss, it takes something so lift us up again. To heal, restore and help us to trust again, to risk being wrong again.
We’ve all experienced this being stuck, or we will – in bereavement, maybe in the failure of a relationship, of a marriage. The mess may have been a result of our own failing, or someone else’s, or no-one’s fault, just the way that the world is. But it can imprison us in fear, guilt, pain, mess.
Thomas can lead us on that journey beyond, or even more deeply into, the mess, that we might finally know the truth of Jesus rising from the dead. Thomas knows what its like, and he will help. So that in time with Thomas we can pray: ‘My Lord and my God’.
Then we will have faith not because we’ve inherited it, only, but because we ourselves have experienced, continue to experience it (at least on a good day!)
Then he will be my Lord not only because he is theirs, or is ours – though he is – but because I have learnt the truth of it, and I respond person to person to my Lord and my God. And I will have that personal commitment to God, from which flows everything else. Which means that God, Catholicism is not a style choice, or a means to an end, but is the heart of me and mine.
The prayer of Thomas: ‘My Lord and my God’ is a powerful prayer, so simple, but all containing. It is like a diamond to carry close in Easter, praying the words, but meditating on them too.
- What do they mean to me.
- Are they true?
- Why are they true?
- How are they true?
May Thomas, his example and his prayer, deepen faith in all of us.
The risen Lord, Arles. c) 2014, Allen Morris