The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio
Jesus said to Thomas “put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.”
for whom no door is closed,
no heart is locked:
draw us beyond our doubts,
till we see your Christ and touch his wounds where they bleed in others.
This we ask through Christ our Saviour,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever, Amen.
- Acts 5:27 – 32
- Psalm 118:14 – 29
- Revelations 1:4 – 8
- John 20:19 – 31
- Acts 9:1 – 6
- Psalm 30
- Revelations 5:6 – 14
- John 21:1 – 19
Jesus 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. John 20:19 – 21
The gospel for the 2nd Sunday of Easter (for all 3 years of the lectionary cycle) is Acts 2 of John’s Easter drama.
Scene one takes place on Easter night. The terrified disciples are huddled together, realising that they are marked men because of their association with the criminal Jesus. The risen Jesus appears in there midst with his greeting of “peace”. John clearly has the Genesis story in mind when the Evangelist describes Jesus as “breathing” the Holy Spirit on his disciples: Just as God created man and woman by breathing life into them (Genesis 2:7), the risen Christ recreates humankind by breathing the new life of the holy spirit upon the eleven.
In scene 2 the disciples excitedly tell the just returned Thomas of what they had seen. Thomas response to the news with understandable scepticism. Thomas had expected the cross (see John 11:16 and 14:5) – and no more.
The climatic 3rd scene takes place one week later, with Jesus 2nd appearance to the assembled community – this time with Thomas present. He invites Thomas to examine his wounds and to “believe”. Christ’s blessing in response to Thomas profession of faith exalts the faith of every Christian of every age who “believes without seeing”; all Christians to embrace the spirit of the risen one possess a faith that is in no way different less than the that of the 1st disciples. The power of the resurrection transcends time and place.
We trace our roots as a parish in faith communities to Easter night when Jesus “breathed” his spirit of peace and reconciliation upon his frightened disciples, transforming them into the new church.
The “peace” that Christ gives his new church is not a passive sense of good feeling or the mere absence of conflict, Christ peace is hard work: the peace of the Easter Christ is to honour one another as children of the same father in heaven, the peace of the Easter Christ seeks to build bridges and find solutions rather than assigning blame or extracting punishment; the peace of Christ is centred in the relationships that are just, ethical and moral.
Jesus entrusting to the disciples the work of forgiveness is what it means to be the church. To accept one another: to affirm one another: to support one another as God has done for us in the risen Christ. What brought the apostles and 1st Christians together as a community – unity of the heart, missionary witness, prayer, reconciliation and healing – no less powerfully binds us to one another as the church of today.
All of us at one time or another, experience the doubt and scepticism of Thomas; while we have heard the good news of Jesus empty tomb, all our fears, problems and sorrows prevent us from realising it in our own lives. In praising his beloved son from the dead, God also raises our spirits to the realisation of the totality and limitlessness of his love for us.
In today’s gospel, Jesus appears to his disciples and shows them his hands and his side; later he invites the doubting Thomas to touch the marks made by the nails and the gash from the soldier’s lance. We all have scars from our own good Fridays and that remains despite our small resurrections. Our “nail marks” remind us that all pain and grief, for the ridicule and suffering, all disappointments and anguish, are transformed into healing and peace in the love of God we experience from others and that we extend to them. Compassion, forgiveness, justice – no matter how clumsily offered – can heal and mend.© Connections/media Works