April 3, 2016: 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 authorities, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
Thomas, called the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “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.”
Now a week later the disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered, “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 yet believe.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:19-31)
It is a week after Easter. With Thomas, we face the fundamental question: What do we believe about the crucified Jesus? Thomas was not present when Jesus came to the other disciples on Easter. When they told him Jesus had been with them, he was not convinced. No, he insisted, I will have to see the nail marks with my own eyes, and I do not believe you. A week passes. Did Thomas continue to think about this conversation? Did he go off by himself or was he with the others? Did they try to convince him or just “give him some space”?
Now there is a second chance. Jesus is present, inviting Thomas to examine his hands and side. In an instant, Thomas is changed by what he sees, and believes in the Risen Lord. Then Jesus looks beyond that room to all who will come later, to all who wonder, struggle, doubt. Blessed are those who believe without seeing.
I see in the glories of this spring many images of renewed life.
This week of Easter celebration, I join my prayer to all the Church: Jesus, breathe the Holy Spirit on us, open our eyes to see you in the words of Scripture and the breaking of bread. Renew and strengthen our faith and love.