April 12, 2015: Second Sunday of Easter
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst saying, “Peace be with you.” The disciples rejoiced when they saw him. Again, Jesus said, “Peace be with you, as the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit, whose sins you forgive are forgiven, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
Thomas, one of the twelve, was not with them. So, the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he replied, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
A week later, the disciples were again inside, Thomas with them. Jesus came in, although the doors were locked, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, bring you hand and put it into my side and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” (John 20:19-31)
This Gospel account of Jesus’ stunning appearance to the Apostles, who were hiding in fear, repeatedly telling them that he brings peace, as well as the account of Thomas’ disbelief are fascinating components of this Gospel. John clearly lets us know that Jesus appeared in a new dimension, walking through locked doors to speak with the Apostles who were cowering there. Jesus repeatedly blesses them with peace, hoping, I suspect, to calm their fear of the Jews and bewilderment at Jesus’ presence. Having witnessed all of this, they believed. But poor Thomas! We tend to think maybe he wasn’t quite as faithful as the others. Really? Thomas had not seen, and found their reports from the upper room a bit suspicious. Jesus, however returned to Thomas, so that he, too, could see and believe.
The lesson learned from the story of Thomas is that we all see from where we stand. Also learned from the story is that Jesus will return to us, again and again, to offer us the gift of belief. Perhaps we might begin to do just one thing this week to strengthen our own faith so that when Jesus appears in the poor, the hungry, the immigrant, the outcast, we will not miss him. Where can we look?