On the Gospel of John 20:19-31
2nd Sunday of Easter
Today’s gospel contains a message for our time. We read about Thomas the Apostle, or doubting Thomas as he is often called, and of all the people in the gospel passage, it is doubting Thomas that many of us can identify with the most. An agnostic friend once told me that Thomas was the only one in the story with any brains! Thomas ends up believing not because he is told to but because he sees for himself, and my friend argued, since today we cannot see Jesus, then we should refuse to believe in Jesus, and in the Church he founded. It is an understandable position.
Furthermore, Thomas’ doubt was the result of the great evils and injustices he had been witness to over the past week. Are we not in a similar position to Thomas? It is easy to be a pessimist like Thomas, when around us there seems to be so much disappointment. Wherever we look- the government, the economy, and the Church- there seems to be reasons to be pessimistic about the future, reasons to doubt and say “I refuse to believe”.
But even from the ashes of pessimism, in my opinion, a spark of optimism can be found. And you only need one spark to start a fire that can reignite hope. Jesus was that spark for Thomas. Jesus is speaking to us from the pages of the gospel, and He is demanding from us a response. To those who feel anguish of heart, Jesus says he felt that too when in the garden of Gethsemane. To those feeling weighed down by the burdens of life, Jesus says he felt weighed down too by the Cross as he carried it to Calvary. To anyone who feels like they have been the victim of injustice, Jesus shows us his pierced hands and pierced feet, and says he was a victim of injustice too.
But to all of us Jesus is saying that none of these things have the last word. He experiences them too, but then rises again from death to new life, and he invites us with him. He gives us a reason to hope again, and to have faith and believe in the goodness of God, and the goodness of His Creation.
Thomas finds himself encountering an old friend and slowly he feels life within himself once more. His heart asks “could it really be?” “Could He be?”. And to that Jesus is saying yes, do dare to hope and do dare to believe! He says ” Do not be unbelieving any more but believe.”. Life is worth living, the risen Christ says, and then he says “Come, follow me”.
In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you,’ and, after saying this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy at seeing the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. ‘As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’ After saying this he breathed on them and said: Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained. Thomas, called the Twin, who was 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 answered, ‘Unless I can see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe. Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you,’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Do not be unbelieving any more but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him: You believe because you can see me. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. There were many other signs that Jesus worked in the sight of the disciples, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name.
– John 20:19-31