Fr Thomas’ Homily for the 2nd Sunday of Easter

Thomas and Faith

Churches swelled with the faithful at Easter ceremonies; the congregations doubled or tripled!  The faith in resurrected Christ is popular as always.  Yet seventy or so percent of Catholics in our area have not darkened the church with their shadow.  They might be questioning “Did Christ really resurrect, and is he actually with us?”  Then again, it is nothing new; questions about Jesus’ resurrection were debated all throughout history.   John’s Gospel, written in the early 2nd century, affirms the resurrection.  For John the issue was not any doubt about Jesus’ resurrection.  By the time John was writing the Gospel, there were many converts who did not have the privilege of knowing Jesus personally.  The disciples who met Jesus personally were considered superior by others.  John’s narrative is to be read in this context of the presumed superiority of the early disciples over the later ones.  We are also aware that John’s language is symbolic.

On the first day of the week is the beginning of creation.  The disciples who locked themselves up because of the fear of the outside world were like dead men walking and their experience of the world around was that of chaotic and lifeless world.  They needed the life giving presence of God, and they got it.  Risen Jesus, the Word of God, appeared to them and breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”   It reminds us of the creation narrative in Genesis.  The breath of God created order and life out of chaos.  Humans were created by God breathing into the figure made out of the earth.  Resurrected Jesus breathed on the frightened disciples and they were made into a new creation.  Jesus gifted them with peace, joy and the Holy Spirit. 

Eight days later, Jesus appears to the disciples again.  This time, Thomas who did not meet Jesus at the beginning of the week was also present.  He now represents the later converts to the Church.  To them also the risen Jesus appears with gifts of forgiveness, peace and joy.  It is the same Jesus who appeared at both times, the same one who was crucified.   To make it clear, Jesus shows his wounds.   With this vision of Jesus, Thomas makes the ultimate profession of faith; saying, “My Lord and My God.”  Though late to meet Jesus, nevertheless Thomas is blessed same as the rest of the disciples who had met Jesus earlier.  The later comers into Christianity are equally blessed as the earlier disciples.

The Gospel of John singles out Thomas to paint the picture of an ideal disciple.   While other companions of Jesus were afraid to go with him to Jerusalem from Bethany, Thomas said, “Let us also go with him and die with him” (Ref John 11:16).   He was also very eager to follow Jesus always and to all places.  Therefore, Thomas said, “Lord we do not know where you are going.  Then how can we know the way?” (Ref John 14:5).  Because of the intensity of Thomas’ love for Christ, he was upset at the news that Jesus appeared to other disciples in his absence.  Therefore, he said, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” (Ref John 20:25)   It is such intense love for Jesus and strong desire to follow him which makes you a true disciple of Jesus.  Our bonding with the Body of Christ (the Church) help us  profess Jesus as our Lord and God, just as Thomas did.