Second Sunday of Easter Acts 4:32-35; 1 John 5:1-6; John 20:19-31
Today’s Gospel can be thought of as having two separate parts: first, Jesus communicates His Spirit to the disciples in the place where they are hiding and second, the story of “doubting Thomas”. As we encounter the disciples in this story, we realize that they have not been immediately transformed by the death and Resurrection of Jesus because they are hiding, that is they are safely staying behind closed doors. Their actions do not match their words of “We have seen the Lord.” When Jesus appears to them, He gives the Holy Spirit to the disciples and not only to them, but Jesus is commissioning the Church as a whole. He gives them and us power over evil forces.
As we meet Thomas, “doubting” Thomas, in this Gospel, we see through the fear of the disciples that they too doubted. Imagine walking into a room where everyone appears to be fearful – that is what Thomas saw on the faces of the disciples. Perhaps Thomas did not doubt the fact that Jesus had been there but his doubt centered around the disciples and their lack of joy. Is this not possible? Do we not act the same at times in our own lives when we doubt and question, and lack joy? What do others see when they look at us? Is it joy or perhaps fear or anxiety?
Let’s recall for a moment that John probably wrote this Gospel around 95AD when the people of that time were also struggling with their own doubts and questions. They did not know the disciples; they had not seen Jesus. They too might have wanted the chance to see, touch and verify that Jesus is risen. This might explain the story and the bad rap given to Thomas. We can ask ourselves similar questions. Is it possible to have experiences of the Risen Lord? Is He alive to me? Do I take the time to ponder why I am fearful at times? How do I show my belief in the risen Lord to others?
We know that Jesus cannot be seen or touched by us today. Our belief has been achieved only through faith. We are blessed because our faith is genuine, and just as Thomas was called and sent, so too we each are called and sent. Thomas, “doubting Thomas”, was the first to recognize the divinity of Jesus Christ when he acclaimed “My Lord and my God.” Thus Thomas represents the final accomplishment of Jesus – the triumph over unbelief.
As we continue in this Easter season may we become stronger in our faith and witness to the risen Christ by our lives. May the peace that Christ bestowed on the Church be alive in each of us.
Sister Barbara Werner, O.P.