2nd Sunday of Easter 2023

Doubting ThomasWe can just imagine the atmosphere in the Upper Room!  The disciples were almost huddled together supporting each other in their disappointment, fear, despondency and despair.  Yes, probably great despair, lack of hope, and, feeling that purpose in life had ebbed away.

But there was also the overwhelming doubt in all that had gone before.  Mary of Magdala had come proclaiming the Risen Lord and they did not believe!  The two disciples of Emmaus had come with their story and the disciples did not believe! (Mark 16:9-15 – yesterday’s Gospel).

How do we judge them?  Or can we easily identify with their every emotion and are we able to see ourselves right there in the middle of them.  In so many ways we all have been there.

Why was Thomas not here with the rest of them?  Had it all become too tiresome for him?  Had he decided to get on with life instead of moping around?  Did he have an understanding of what Jesus had promised and was waiting for the time that it would be fulfilled?

We know that Thomas was a very serious man, even intense.  When Jesus had decided to go up to Jerusalem to face his fate, it was Thomas who suggested that he would go to die with him.  At the time when Jesus was explaining his return to the Father and used the wonderful analogy of ‘the way, the truth and the life’, it was Thomas who asked the pertinent question; ‘we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’

Thomas was no worse than many of the disciples who had heard the promises and intentions of Jesus.  Why did Peter not believe until he had examined the scene?  Mary Magdalene should have been expecting the Resurrection and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus were going home in despair.  It was only when John saw the empty tomb that he believed.  

Jesus invited Thomas to probe his wounds, to examine the ‘evidence’, to investigate, as Peter had done at the tomb. There is no evidence that Thomas took up the invitation, but like, John, ‘he saw and he believed’.  And then it is from Thomas that we hear the purest act of faith in Jesus on the lips of anybody in the gospels; “My Lord and my God!” Thomas, far from being ‘Doubting Thomas’ becomes the Patron Saint of all who believe in Jesus as their Lord.

The Gospel today is a stark reminder to all of us that having received the gift of Faith in the Risen Lord we are called to the ministry of leading people to Faith in the same Lord Jesus.  The disciples are commissioned to carry on the work of Jesus.  When Jesus breathes on them and prays over them they receive the divine Spirit who inspired his own ministry.  Their work will be the forgiveness of sins.  This bestowal of the Holy Spirit is the beginning of the Church and the Sacrament of Reconciliation is traced to the power to forgive sins.  But the mission of Salvation is not restricted to the sacraments.  This mission of forgiveness and mercy is carried on in all the apostolates of the Church; education, caring, works of justice and peace.  When we engage in the ministry of teaching, we say your sins are forgiven, receive the truth.  When we reach out in healing, we say your sins are forgiven be healed.

That is our calling!  “Peace be with you!”  “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you”!