MY LORD AND MY GOD
(A biblical reflection on THE SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER [YEAR C] – 28 April 2019)
[SUNDAY OF DIVINE MERCY]
Gospel Reading: John 20:19-31
First Reading: Acts 5:12-16; Psalms: Psalm 118:2-4,16-18,22-27; 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)
In the resurrection stories in John’s Gospel, the author emphasizes the physical characteristics of Jesus’ resurrected body. He does so because some early Christians questioned the idea of bodily resurrection and said that what the apostles really saw was Jesus’ spirit or ghost, not His physical body. Responding to these beliefs, the author of the fourth Gospel was careful to point out that the resurrected Jesus had flesh and bone and that He ate and drank. He wanted to make it clear that the resurrected body was none other than the crucified one.
Today’s Gospel begins with all of the apostles except Thomas hiding in a locked room in fear that they would be arrested and killed just as Jesus was. Without warning, Jesus appears in their midst even though the windows and doors are bolted shut. The apostles cannot believe it! They saw Him crucified and they saw Him die but now He is alive once again!
When Thomas returns, the apostles excitedly tell him all about their experience with the risen Jesus but he refuses to believe them without first putting his fingers in the nail marks in Jesus’ hands and in the wound in Jesus’ side. Notice that Thomas doesn’t say anything about nail marks in Jesus’ feet, possibly because the Romans may have used ropes instead of nails to affix a criminal’s feet to the cross. Therefore, there wouldn’t have been any nail marks in Jesus’ feet for Thomas to examine.
Thomas didn’t accept what the other apostles told him until he saw Jesus himself. The nail marks and the other wounds were the proof he needed to believe the resurrected Jesus was neither a ghost nor the product of imagination but rather the same Jesus who died on the cross.
Although we will always remember Thomas as the one who doubted, he was actually one of the bravest and most loyal of the apostles. In John 11, there’s a story about Jesus was on His way to Bethany even though He knew there were some men in that city who wanted to kill Him. Thomas recognized the potential danger but didn’t back away from it; he suggested that he and the other apostles go with Jesus so they could die with Him. Whatever Thomas’ faults were, cowardice wasn’t one of them.
Many times we are like Thomas, wanting to see before we believe. Is there anything in Christianity that we (you and I) have difficulty believing? Let’s take our doubts and questions to Jesus in prayer and ask Him to help us believe.
(Adapted from Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels – Gospel Commentaries for Cycles A, B, and C, pages 260-261.)
Prayer: Jesus, You are my loving Lord and Savior. I long to see Your face. Heal my unbelief, so that I can bow before You and proclaim, “My Lord and My God”. Amen.
Jakarta, 27 April 2019
A Christian Pilgrim