Second Sunday of Easter
Forward: I don’t know about you, but I am often caught off guard by the Easter Season. I walk through Lent with resolutions, and then when Easter comes, I fall right back into my old habits. Easter is indeed a time of celebration. It also is a time to keep at what you have been doing. If you gave up chocolate for Lent, you can have chocolate again. Still keep to the resolutions you have made. If you resolved to do more spiritual reading for Lent, keep it going. Let’s celebrate Easter by continuing in the good works we have begun.
We read today’s Gospel and might wonder where Thomas the Apostle was during all this. Why wasn’t he with the other disciples on that Sunday? The Gospels do not answer where he was at the time. They do say that he doubted. He refused to believe Jesus had risen from the dead. He said he would only believe if he could put his hand into Jesus’ side and touch the nail marks on His hands. The next Sunday, Thomas is with the disciples. Jesus appears to them and fulfills Thomas’s request. Jesus allows him to touch His wounds. Jesus implores Thomas, “be not unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas responds in dramatic fashion by saying “my Lord and my God.”
There are many ways to approach this whole episode. We can focus on St. Thomas and his doubt. We can ponder Jesus’ actions and words in His post-Resurrection appearances. The presence of the Church is easily overlooked in all of this. Thomas was able to see Jesus in the midst of other believers. Jesus appeared to some who were on their own (like Mary Magdalene). Here he chooses to appear to His disciples while they are together. Later on, at Pentecost, the Church would be instituted when the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples. This only happens when the disciples are all together.
The truth is that we find Christ in the presence of others. We can’t be part of the Church or find Jesus if we remain alone. The Acts of the Apostles holds that the early Christians were “of one mind and one heart.” This may seem unbelievable to us. If you’ve ever been part of a parish council, school board, or even monastic chapter, you know how hard it is for people to agree. “One mind and one heart” doesn’t mean that people in the Church will always get along. At times, the Church has heartburn when people fight. The wounds and pain that we all carry are present in the Church. This isn’t a reality to ignore or hide from. The truth is these wounds are redeemed by Jesus’ Divine Mercy. This Divine Mercy flows from the heart of Christ the way blood and water poured forth from His side.
Jesus’ death and Resurrection opened up the fount of life for the whole World. St. Thomas placed his hand in the wound of Jesus. Jesus reaches out with His hands to heal our wounds of body and soul. We can place our hands to the heart of Christ in order to receive this same Divine Mercy and be made into one Church united in mind and heart.
Reflection Question: Devotion to Divine Mercy is a beautiful way to build up your prayer life. Consider praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet daily if you don’t do so already.
Reflection by Br. Matthew Marie, OSB