Year A: Second Sunday of Easter
Gospel: John 20: 19-31
The Resurrection is so central to our Faith that it takes several Sundays to unfold the events of that first Easter day.
Before we begin todayís Gospel, it might be worth trying to get into the minds and hearts of the disciples. They had witnessed the trial of their Master. This had just about been legal - but only just. They had seen the crowds that had greeted Him so noisily - turn against Him. On the preceding Sunday, they were hailing Him as a great leader; by Friday, they were baying for His blood. They had seen Him stumble along a road under the weight of the cross to which He was subsequently nailed and on which Jesus was left to hang until He died. They had seen Him dead and buried. Yet, that morning, they had gone to the tomb and the body was gone. There was talk of angels - but only hysterical women see angels! The grave-clothes were still there - but what did that prove? Not one of the disciples had an easy conscience - save perhaps young John. Their leader, Peter, had denied his master - one of their number had committed suicide - and all of them had deserted Him in His agony. They had not, in the end, been prepared to stand alongside Him and die with Him.
So - they were probably justified in being frightened. If the Jews and Romans got hold of them could they expect better treatment than Jesus had received? If the body of Jesus had gone, who had taken it - and why? And if the story that He had risen was right - what did that mean? No wonder they were afraid!
Locked doors were no match for Jesus, though - but the disciples were still frightened of Him. Was this a ghost come back to haunt them because they had deserted Him? Or what was it?
You could probably have cut the atmosphere of fear with a knife - but Jesus cuts it with a word speaking of peace and wholeness: shalom. He showed them the marks where the nails had been - but somehow the marks were no longer things to be feared but a source of joy. The disciples did not know what had happened - but they did know that this was their Jesus, their Lord. That moment of recognition opened their eyes - and Jesus confirmed it by sealing them in His Spirit.
By the time Thomas came back, it was all over - and the bunch of terrified disciples he had left had somehow, it seemed, given way to mass hysteria and were claiming to have seen a living Jesus. Common sense dictated a calm and firm approach - no they hadnít. Unless I can see and touch Him - then, no, they might believe the story was true - but it couldnít be.
A week later, he was eating his words as he too was initiated into the Mystery - that His Lord had died - but now was risen.
This is the Easter Mystery at the centre of our faith. Jesus does not come to us in His Risen form - but speaks to us through the same Spirit infused into His disciples two thousand years ago.
It is this Spirit that allows us to proclaim Jesus as Lord and God - and through Him to call God, Father.
What does it mean for me?
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