When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week,
and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of
the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you."
After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then 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." When he had said this, he
breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you
forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any,
they are retained." But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the
twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told 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 in the mark of the nails and
my hand in his side, I will not believe." A week later his disciples were
again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut,
Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then
he 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." Thomas answered
him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed
because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come
to believe." Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his
disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that
you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that
through believing you may have life in his name."
In the last Sunday gospel, which was also taken from St.
John, we learned how the resurrection was received by the apostles. Peter and
John convinced that the body had not been stolen because the winding sheets
were left behind and they were beginning to believe. But the others were
skeptical. The two disciples on the way to Emmaus paid no heed to the women’s
story, and Thomas refused to believe the testimony of the other ten.
It may surprise and amaze us that the apostles were so
reluctant to believe that Christ had risen from the dead and to live forever in
glory with his Father in heaven. We must remember that during their two or
three years with Jesus they saw nothing in him but a mere man, one with divine
powers, but yet a man; certain prophets of the Old Covenant had some such
Christ had emptied himself of his divine nature, and he had
foretold his resurrection many times. But that he could be really God as well
as a man was something his apostles could not then grasp, and if he was mere
man death had to be the end.
Their slowness of faith had its value for the future Church
and for all of us. If they had been expecting the resurrection, and anxiously
looking forward to it, people could say that they imagined it, that they
persuaded themselves it had happened. Indeed there have been men proud of their
acuteness of judgment, who have said that the story of the resurrection is
story of mass hallucination, although all the evidence proves the opposite.
Their conviction that it could not happen, could not be removed from their
minds except by impressive evidence that it had. Hallucination is born in a
mind already expecting and hoping for the “imagined fact”.
We can thank the apostles and especially Thomas, the last to
give in, that our faith in the resurrection and divine glorification of Christ
is that much stronger.
Our Christianity which would have ended before the first
Easter week and passed, if Christ had not risen in glory, spread rapidly to the
then known world and is still spreading, because its author was none other than
Christ “our Lord and our God”.
How prophetic were the words of Gamaliel at the meeting of
the Sanhedrin which tried to prevent the apostles from preaching the new
Christian faith: “If this plan or work is of men, it will be over thrown, but
if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow it.” (Acts 5:38-39).
Therefore, let us give thanks to the doubtful Thomas. Amen.