(A biblical reflection on SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER, 27 April 2014)
Gospel Reading: John 20:19-31
First Reading: Acts 2:42-47; Psalms: Psalm 118:2-4,13-15,22-24; Second Reading:1Peter 1:3-9
The Scripture Text On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in His side, I will not believe.”
Eight days later, His disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side; do not be faithless, but believing.” Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed 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, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:19-31 RSV)
It is said that truth is stranger than fiction, and the disciples’ story to Thomas is a classic example. “Guess what, Thomas? Jesus isn’t dead anymore! In fact, He showed up here, wounds and all, while you were out!” Then a week went by with nothing – no sign of Jesus. If you were Thomas, would you have believed such a tall tale?
Thomas wasn’t asked only to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. He could only base his belief upon the testimony of others. No wonder Thomas asked for more evidence. Thomas was no coward. In fact, he seems to have been the only disciple to go beyond their locked doors to face a hostile world. No, he had to be sure about his choice to risk his life for a crucified Messiah. Some of the other disciples also had doubts, but Thomas was the only one bold enough to ask to touch Jesus’ wounds. We often focus on the way Jesus chided Thomas for his unbelief, but we also need to remember that Jesus answered Thomas’s request! He revealed Himself, and ultimately Thomas believed.
In a way, we are in a similar position as Thomas. We too have to trust other people’s ancient testimony about Jesus. Such trust is important, but it is not enough. We also need to “see” Jesus for ourselves so that our faith will spring to life in a transforming way. We need to be convinced in our hearts as well as in our heads.
Jesus is eager to reveal Himself to us, even if it is not in the physical way He did for Thomas. If we unlock our minds and hearts, He can show Himself to us through His creation or through the kindness of others. Anything is possible when we are open to His presence! We will know our hearts are being stirred when we join with Thomas and cry out: “My Lord and my God!”
Prayer: Jesus, glorious risen Lord, I open my heart to you. Flood every corner of darkness and doubt with the light of Your truth. Blessed and holy are You! Amen.