Gospel Reflection for April 11th Easter Sunday 2021
Today we stand with Thomas, who sadly will forever be as known as the one who doubted in the resurrection. He refused to believe unless he could see Jesus himself. As well as being the disciple who doubted, he is also known the one who is often accused of having little or no faith; but is true?
After his resurrection, Jesus appears to his friends several times; next Sunday we will hear what happened after the two disciples met Jesus on the road to Emmaus. Those who had been with Jesus for three years had eaten and prayed with him. They had heard him preach and teach. They had seen his miracles when he healed people and forgave their sins. They had also seen him being betrayed, denied condemned and crucified. They knew he had died and had been buried; so how could he be alive? Through appearing to the men and woman who had been his friends, he encourages and strengthens them; he calms their fears and doubts. In the gospel today, the disciples are behind locked doors hiding in fear. When he appears to them, Jesus greets them with the words, ‘Peace be with you.’ To prove to them that it is actually him, Jesus show them the wounds in his hands and side. Isn’t this just what Thomas wanted to see? And then perhaps to reassure them, again he says, ‘Peace be with you.’
Thomas is not with them when Jesus appears. The others tell him that they had seen and spoken to Jesus. But he does not believe them and so ‘Doubting Thomas’ is born! I suggest that we need to be careful not to be too quick in condemning or criticising Thomas for his apparent lack of faith. Perhaps we are called to admire him for his honesty and conviction. He is simply being honest with himself and the others. He desperately wants to meet and experience the risen Lord for himself – who wouldn’t?
It is worth remembering that Thomas is not the only one who doubted. Most if not all of the followers of Jesus doubted that he had risen from the dead. When Mary Magdalene told the others that Jesus had appeared to her, none of them believed her. The two on the road to Emmaus were very slow to realise that it was Jesus to whom they were talking as they walked along.
Thomas will not believe unless he can put his fingers into the wounds of Jesus. When Jesus appears again, he wastes no time in speaking directly to Thomas. He invites Thomas to put his fingers into his wounds so he can have the proof he needs. We imagine that this is what Thomas did – but he didn’t; paintings show this. Thomas doesn’t touch Jesus at all. Instead he cries out the prayer that echoes through the centuries, ‘My Lord and my God.’ This is the prayer of one who believes, not someone who doubts. Thomas is in fact a man of great faith.
None of us go through life without struggles, difficulties or doubts. There are times when we are at our weakest; whether physically, emotional or spiritually. These recent months have been great challenge to us at all levels. Difficult as it can be, we are called to live in the hope and faith that Jesus is with us as he was with Thomas.
Jesus is always with us, especially when we are living with doubt. When we are struggling to believe, it can help to realise that we are not on our own – Jesus is standing by our side. It can be a time of growth as we reach out and ask God to help us. When we have these doubts, may we have the faith and courage of Thomas so that like him, we too can pray, My Lord and my God.
– Br Michael Moore OMI
|Gospel 2nd Sunday of Easter April 11th||John 20:19-31 ©|