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
and put my finger into the nail marks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."
Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was
Jesus came, although the doors were locked…
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."
(from Jn 20:19-31)
Pondering the Word…
What’s Thomas up to during the week after Jesus’ death? It’s a dangerous
time in Jerusalem. As a Galilean, he’s taking a pretty big risk being
out and about. He’s heard of Mary’s encounter with Jesus and the story
of the empty tomb. The travelers to Emmaus have shared their experience
as well. Maybe he just needs to be alone in his grief and doubt.
But he is emphatic when he meets the others. The phrase “I will not
believe” translates even more definitively:
“I will most certainly not have faith.”
You can see him with his arms folded in front of him, a sad, stern look
on his face. But listen to what he says will prove Jesus’ resurrection
for him: it’s not Jesus coming in majesty surrounded by angels; it’s not
him preaching and healing as he did before he died. Proof for Thomas
will be found in the marks of Jesus’ suffering.
Grief and doubt can creep in for us as well. Easters come and go but the
real meaning of the Resurrection seems lost on us amid the realities of
our everyday lives. We might know people who radiate God’s love and we
long to have that same experience of joy.
Perhaps we need to take a lesson from Thomas. If we think Christ is only
available to us in the mystery, the victory, and the joy of the
Resurrection, we are seeing only half the picture. Christ’s presence is
also found, most assuredly, in his suffering.
Living the Word…
Falling and rising, death and new life…it is the story of nature, the
story of our existence, the story God is willing to live out with us to
give us hope. “The Divine Mercy, like alchemy, transforms the leaden
burden into precious substance.” (Thomas Howard) We need to share
this essential message, particularly with our young people. But it’s
important that we share both sides of the story. Our scars matter. Our
stories of survival and rebirth matter, not as something we dwell on or
bemoan, but as context for our faith and hope. Do you know someone who
is low on hope? The very best thing you can do is to just listen, but as
appropriate, share your own story in a way that shows empathy and
compassion for their struggle. “We meet God most fully in the realm
of mercy.” (Anthony Bloom) How can your story lead others to Divine
Mercy, the source of all hope?
“Lord, take note of their threats, and enable your servants to speak
your word with all boldness...” (Acts 4:23-31)
Peter and John have just returned from spending a night in jail.
Tensions are high and the assembly prays together: ‘Lord, see what we
are up against here? We need double the ration of your Spirit to give us
strength to persevere.’ Most of us are not called upon to defend our
faith, but think about taking time each morning to consider the
challenges you might face in the coming day, not as a cause for anxiety,
but as an opportunity to ask God for a specific grace. You’ll be amazed
at what this kind of prayer can do for you!
The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one
claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything
in common…There was no needy person among them…(Acts
People point to this passage to say that the early Christian community
practiced a form of what we now call socialism. But that word is loaded,
both in terms of ideology and in practice. A community of one heart and
mind might just be able to make this work for a while but the larger the
group becomes, the more difficult it is to maintain. Communities are
made up of human beings--therein lies the problem! But it doesn’t mean
we ignore the lessons of that first community. We need to take a closer
look at what we consider “our possessions,” as Pope Francis encourages
us to do. Are clean air and water, gainful employment, education, and
adequate healthcare “possessions” for the well-to-do, or basic human
rights? Does 10% of the world’s population need or deserve 90% of the
wealth? Things are clearly out of balance, but it’s not an either/or
proposition. What can you do to foster common-sense solutions to foster
the common good?
so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone
who believes in him might have eternal life…And this is the verdict: the
light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light…”
This first sentence is quoted so frequently I forget it is part of the
discussion Jesus has with Nicodemus. Nicodemus is a Pharisee, skilled in
rabbinical debate and Hebrew wordplay. I wonder if he catches the irony
in Jesus’ words about light and darkness, given it is under the cloak of
darkness that he meets with Jesus. “People prefer darkness to light.”
I’d like to disagree, but the world around me (and inside me) causes me
to take Jesus’ words to heart. Let us be willing to seek him out, even
in the sometimes harsh, judgmental light of day.
the one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his
gift of the Spirit.
Jesus does not pick and choose who gets to hear the words of God. He
does not “ration his gift of the Spirit.” Where do we, in our
lives and institutions, put restrictions on who is welcome at the table
or worthy to receive the gift of Christ’s Spirit? What do you think
Jesus would say if he saw us rationing the gift of his Spirit?
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his
handiwork….Not a word nor a discourse whose voice is not heard; through
all the earth their voice resounds, and to the ends of the world, their
At first read, it may sound like the psalmist is being contradictory: “there
is no utterance…their voice is never heard. Through all the earth their
voice goes out.” (Hebrew translation) But if you’ve ever been
captivated by nature, you know what the psalmist is saying here. The
Jesuit poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins writes, “The world is charged with
the grandeur of God.” It is springtime where I live and the grandeur
of God is on full display. Take time to be in nature—not just running
from your house to your car to your office and back again—but spend at
least 15 minutes a day in silence in nature. Listen. The heavens declare
the glory of God in wordless verse that the most gifted of poets cannot
rival. Give God thanks for the marvels of the universe!
Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
The psalms this week have been particularly powerful, especially when
you read the Hebrew versions. Verse 22 of today’s psalm is translated:
“Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we have yearned for you.” Ooh,
I like that so much better! “As we place our trust in you” sounds
business-like to me, more reliant on our action rather than on the deep,
essential longing in our hearts for God. While some of the beauty of the
poetry in the psalms is lost in the translation from Hebrew, it’s always
refreshing to read a different take on the same old verse. If Scripture
is getting a bit stale for you, it might be time to do some research.
Don’t just wing it; there are less than reliable versions out there!
Look for scholarly sources or consult your pastor or the website of your
faith practice. It’s amazing how changing a simple word or two can make
a big difference in your prayer.