2nd Sunday of Easter - April 28, 2019 (Thoman)
Acts 5:12-16, Rev. 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19, Jn 20:19-31
“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.”
I. It seems to me that a characteristic most of us would admire in someone else is
the ability to admit when they are wrong and look at things in a different way.
Consider for example, someone who just insists that his view is the right
view…there is no other way to look at this except this way; this is the way it is.
And then you present additional information, you offer another way to look at
the issue and the person really does pause to consider what you say. They look
at the evidence you present and then completely change their mind. They admit
they were wrong and hold a completely different view.
Don’t we admire that humility in someone? AND, isn’t their opinion now
even more credible? If that other person holds a new view, wouldn’t we say,
“Well, if Sam thinks that, then it must be true!?” Their view takes on more
II. It seems that is what is happening with Thomas. And probably helps to explain
why Thomas is so intriguing. Thomas is long remembered…everyone knows of
Thomas…we commonly talk about “doubting Thomas.”
Thomas was one who just insisted on hardcore evidence that Jesus had risen.
He probably thought it was ridiculous. He wanted to see and touch the wounds.
Thomas was the realist. And yet, when confronted with different evidence, he
was humble enough to admit that maybe he was wrong. He declared, “My Lord
and my God!” Think of how powerful his witness to others must have been
coming from someone who had doubted Jesus’ Resurrection.
III. The Gospel writer John could have ended his gospel with the first part of this
gospel selection – with Jesus greeting the disciples and then commissioning
them to go forth and forgive sins in his name. But then John adds this
appearance with Thomas a week later. This is for our benefit.
This is for us who may question and doubt and search for our own evidence.
That is perfectly fine to do. Our own search helps us to resolve our struggles in faith.
But the downside of that is that there is a danger we shut ourselves off from other
kinds of evidence. Thomas’ search reminds us evidence of the truth of Jesus and
the presence of Christ among us isn’t always – or even usually – the result of
tangible evidence. It comes, instead through the witness of others and is found
IV. The first reading gives us examples of people discovering Christ’s presence
– not in tangible signs – but in the ministry of Peter and the others ministering to
those who were sick. There – in that ministry of signs and wonders – the people
saw evidence of something miraculous.
Just recently I visited one of our parishioners who has become seriously and is,
in fact, most likely, in the dying process. During the visit she looked me straight
in the eye and said, “Jesus is coming. And I am going.” I think each of us in the
room was deeply moved by this experience and expression of faith.
And that sort of thing happens all the time: those who minister to the ill – those
who visit – those who take Holy Communion – those who provide care – are
constantly blessed with the sick person witness to faith. Often times the faith
of someone ill rises to the surface, becomes more solidified and is expressed
in touching ways. Here are multiple signs of Christ’s presence.
Another way in which we find evidence of Christ’s presence is in the witness of
other disciples of Jesus. Fortunately we are blessed to be with people of faith
– especially if we have a faith-filled family or we are a church going person
connecting with the parish community. In these contexts we have the opportunity
to benefit from the faith experience of others. We can learn from them what faith
means to them – how faith guides them – how faith gives them support – how
faith helps them to be calm, hope-filled and at peace. That can come from parents,
grandparents, siblings, extended members of the family, fellow parishioners. They
are like the disciples trying to witness to Thomas who was adamant on finding his own evidence.
And a very important experience of community faith is found in the liturgy – specifically
the Eucharistic liturgy. That is what is happening in the second reading: that is
a kind of divine liturgy. Recognizing the presence of Christ among us – in this
Eucharist liturgy – isn’t in all the externals – like the words, the music, the liturgical
gestures. All of those think we do here in the liturgy point to the deeper reality we
celebrate. All of those things we do in liturgy are like doorways – facilitating the
real encounter of Christ, culminating with receiving Holy Communion.
The liturgy itself moves us beyond a desire for tangible signs the personal,
sacramental encounter with the risen Christ. Our only response can be to bow
in adoration as did Thomas and say, “My Lord and my God.”
(Fr. Dwayne Thoman)