THOMAS WAS JUST LIKE US
(A biblical refection on THE SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER – 3 April 2016)
[SUNDAY OF DIVINE MERCY]
Gospel Reading: John 20:19-31
First Reading: Acts 5:12-16; Psalms: Psalm 118:2-4,22-27; Second Reading: Revelation 1:9-13,17-19
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 these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:19-31 RSV)
The apostles had gathered together in locked quarters out of fear that they would be next in line for execution. But in the midst of their apprehensions, Jesus’ appearance brought them joy, comfort, and peace. Only one apostle – Thomas – was absent when Jesus first appeared. And Thomas refused to believe his companions’ reports of an empty tomb and Jesus miraculously alive again.
For Thomas, the shock of the Master’s arrest and crucifixion had left him brokenhearted and hopeless. It seems that in his grief he sought solitude rather than the comforting presence of his fellow disciples. Thomas was sure of only one thing: He would not believe unless he was given visible proof of Jesus’ resurrection.
Imagine Thomas’ surprise when Jesus showed up – even after Thomas had denied his friends’ stories and told them he simply wouldn’t believe! In just one encounter with Jesus, Thomas’ doubt and sadness gave way to firm conviction and unspeakable joy.
Saint Gregory the Great once wrote, “The supreme mercy … ordered that the doubting disciple, as he touched the wounds in the flesh of his Master, heal in us the wounds of our unbelief.” He went to say that Thomas’ doubt can even help us to believe more than the faith of the disciples who did believe. Why? Because we know we’re not alone. Thomas – one of the chosen twelve – was just like us!
Do you know someone who is wavering in faith or feels abandoned by God? Pray that the Lord Jesus will “show up” and reassure them with His presence. Perhaps you feel distant from the Lord or worried that you’ve done something He won’t forgive. Know that Jesus is present for you with His mercy and grace. Today at Mass He wants to come to you in word and sacrament. He is always ready to speak to you, even in times of adversity, loneliness, or temptation. As you listen to Jesus’ word and invite Him into your heart today, let Him strengthen your faith as He did for His good friend, Thomas.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe that Your victory over sin and death can free everyone from disbelief. Give faith to the faint-hearted and hope to the hopeless that everyone may find life, peace, and joy in Your presence. Amen.
Jakarta, 31 March 2016 [EASTER OCTAVE: THURSDAY]
A Christian Pilgrim