Gospel Reflection Apr 8 – Fr. Morris

Sunday, April 8

Second Sunday of Easter

John 20: 19 – 31

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, 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 said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

Poor St. Thomas gets a bad rap. We have a sense that Thomas should have believed without any proof. The term “doubting Thomas” is meant in a derogatory fashion, after all. But how many of us can really blame Thomas? We at least have the benefit of a historical perspective, of a long history of belief in Christianity, and the example of the saints and the Church to reassure us. But Thomas had none of that. So perhaps we can go a little easy on him.

A compassionate view of St. Thomas is also reinforced by what he does once Christ does appear. Christ tells St. Thomas to place his fingers into his side, so that he might believe. The text does not say that Thomas actually did so; the text says he simply answered, “My Lord and my God!” We see how hollow was Thomas’ prior boasting, of his seemingly cynical demand for a high bar of evidence. His skepticism evaporates the moment he finds himself face to face with the Risen Christ. He needs no further proof; he does not need to medically examine the actual wounds of Christ any longer.

That personal encounter with the Risen Christ was enough to answer the doubts of even a doubting Thomas. May our own encounter with the Risen Christ also dispel our disbelief and our cynicism this Easter season.

Father Matthew Morris