For Sunday, April 16th, 2023
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.
Thomas is not present for the first appearance of the risen Christ to the apostles, so his unbelief lasts longer than the others. What Thomas suffered from is a problem all too common to Christians in the modern world. We think we want scientific evidence when what we actually need the most is spiritual vision.
Think back on the other accounts of Jesus’s appearances, such as when he showed up along the road to Emmaus. He tells those he encounters that, based on the scriptures, they should have known he was to rise (see Luke 24:13-35). In other words, their spiritual knowledge would have prepared them to believe.
Thomas doesn’t have that knowledge here. And though Christ wants his followers always to have that kind of spiritual perception, he still works to awaken it within others when it is dormant. He lets Thomas see and touch his wounds even as he notes in a gentle rebuke: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
In your prayer today, meditate on how you are cultivating your spiritual vision. Are you really prepared to believe in the Resurrection, the Ascension, and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? Are you busy pointing out others who have been slow to believe? Ask the Lord to work on yourself so that you will believe and see.
The Easter Gospel readings point you to the scriptures, the sacraments, prayer, and company with others whose faith or love are greater than yours. When these all come together, you will be prepared to believe the Lord even before he gives the proof.
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