Acts 2:42-47; Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24; 1 Peter 1:3-9; John 20:19-31
First Reading: In this brief passage from Acts of the Apostles, we have three summaries that outline the characteristics of the Jerusalem community. It follows the famous Pentecost sermon, or the speech in which Peter outlines the story of salvation.
Psalm 118: Today’s psalm calls us together to sing the praise of God whose “mercy endures forever.”
Second Reading: The second reading begins with a great proclamation of praise, summarizing the reason for our rejoicing, namely the Resurrection of Jesus Christ which opens the doors to salvation for those who are “safe-guarded through faith.”
Gospel: At the Last Supper, Jesus offered peace to the Apostles gathered around the table. Here Jesus appears to the disciples after the Resurrection and his first greeting also offers them peace. Indeed, this greeting of peace is so important that he says it to them twice!
Reflection: “Aw, go on!” “Get out of here!” “You’re kidding!” “You’re pulling my leg!” “You don’t say!” “I don’t believe it!” With these and other expressions we exclaim our disbelief at something that has been said or reported to us as having been done. In today’s Gospel, Thomas (who was not present at Jesus’ first appearance to the disciples) refuses to believe that Jesus is alive. He tells the other disciples that without the physical proof of seeing and touching his wounds, he won’t believe. So, seemingly quite willing to accommodate, Jesus returns the next week and invites Thomas to see, touch and believe. In other words, Jesus is just as much with the disciples when they do not perceive his presence as he is when they do perceive his presence.
The reading ends with what is thought to have been the original conclusion to John’s narrative. It clearly states John’s purpose in writing his account: John wants his readers to believe “that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief [they] may have life in his name.” Do you believe that he is present?
Jesus is present in the stranger who reaches out to help us. Jesus is present in the person who recognizes in us and calls forth talent we didn’t know we had. Jesus is present when we listen to another who longs to unburden his or her heart. Jesus is present when we forgive those who hurt us. Jesus is present in the person whose encouragement frees us from fear. Our belief in the presence of the risen Christ is strengthened through such tangible good acts. Through these acts, what happened for Thomas happens for us today.
The struggle to believe is no less than the struggle to recognize and encounter the risen Christ. This is really what our Christian life is all about – encountering the risen Christ who lives now within the Christian community and living the reality that risen life is given to us to share with others. Our Easter joy doesn’t come from proofs; it comes from persons who are willing to struggle with the mystery because what the mystery promises is so much: new life.
Question for reflection: Do I believe that I encounter the risen Christ in my daily discipleship?
Copyright © 2017, Scott W. Eakins. All Rights Reserved.