Second Sunday of Easter
Acts 5:12-16; Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24; Revelation 1:9-11, 12-13, 17-19; John 20:19-31
“…blessed are those who have not seen and have come to believe.” (John 20:29)
Fear and doubt plague all of us. There is so much fear and uncertainty in today’s world that it becomes somewhat easy for us to understand and relate to the feelings expressed by Jesus’ disciples in today’s Gospel reading. Are you wondering if things will ever get better or if life will ever return to the pre-COVID normal? Were the disciples wondering if things would ever get better and if life, as they knew it with Jesus, would return to normal?
The events recorded in today’s Gospel reading from John took place on Easter Sunday, the day Mary Magdalene discovered the empty tomb. While Peter and John also witnessed the empty tomb and came to realize that Jesus had truly risen from the dead, they remained locked in the upper room with all the other disciples, except Thomas. They were paralyzed with fear, fear that the Jews would look for them and kill them, too. As Jesus’ followers, they had big dreams, deep hopes and a true desire to be part of meaningful change and all of this was shattered by Jesus’ death. The upper room had become their tomb.
One week later, Jesus returns and finds that nothing has changed. Despite the fact that the disciples knew that Jesus had risen and that he had bestowed on them the gift of the Holy Spirit and commissioned them to continue his work, they remained paralyzed in the upper room. It is no wonder that Thomas doubted the disciples’ account of Jesus’ appearance. The disciples told him that they had seen the Lord, that he had breathed the Holy Spirit upon them and sent them out into the world to continue His work, that is to forgive sins and heal the brokenness of His people. Thomas’ doubt was a challenge to his fellow disciples. He questioned if their account of Jesus’ appearance were true, why were they still huddled in that upper room and not about Jesus’ work.
How might Thomas react to us today? As we finish six weeks of Lent and eight days in the octave of Easter, a seven-week period of personal reflection and recommitment, are we still locked in our tomb or huddled in our own upper room? The locked places of our lives are generally more about what is going on inside of us rather than what is going on around us. Sociologists tell us that until we find the communal meaning and significance of the suffering of all life, especially at this time of war, violence, and COVID restrictions, we will continue to retreat into our individual, small worlds in a misguided quest for personal safety and sanity.
The power of Jesus’ resurrection brings peace to us individually and to the whole world. On the other hand, doubt and fear make it difficult to believe in the wonders God continues to manifest through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Let us expel the cloud of doubt and fear from our lives so as to experience the power of the resurrected Christ. Let us embrace the peace and hope Christ brings to us this Easter season!
Sr. Mary T. Flood, OP