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The Gift of Thomas

  • April 24, 2022 (readings)
  • Divine Mercy Sunday
  • Beth Van de Voorde
  • John 20:19-31

    On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. 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.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” 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 hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” 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.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” 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.

    Opening Prayer: Dear Risen Lord, I come before you for this time of prayer—to be with you, to listen to you, to let you look upon me. Open my heart to your Holy Spirit in this time of prayer; let me be docile to your inspirations and welcome you. I love you, Lord. 

    Encountering Christ: 

    1. Jesus Passed through Locked Doors: The doors were shut to the room where the Apostles were. More than lock and key, though, it was their fear and need for the Holy Spirit that kept them confined. They were still so afraid, still so unsure of how to comprehend all they had lived, and perhaps they were still afraid that the Pharisees would arrest and crucify them if their whereabouts were known. Perhaps they were still ashamed for having run in fear, not accompanying their Lord to his death. Whatever the source of their fear–and whatever the fears that keep us locked up inside ourselves–the Lord shows that just as he passed through death to new life, he can pass through the locked doors of our fears, too. Perhaps in this time of prayer, we can ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten our heart, reveal our fears, and let Jesus speak his peace over us. 

    2. Forgiven Sins: We know this is a significant passage for many reasons; among them, Jesus establishes the sacrament of Reconciliation. Jesus gave his first priests the authority to forgive sins. Isn’t it striking that the Risen Lord, who knew the guilt and sorrow his friends had in their hearts, wanted to make some things clear from the very beginning: he forgave them their sins–in particular their failure to accompany him to Calvary–and breathed his peace upon them. He gave them his Holy Spirit, and then even extended to them the mission to forgive the sins of others in his name. Christ is, indeed, Lord of all, but he never wishes to burden us by that Lordship; rather, he makes himself servant, forgives us, and calls us to share in his mission of forgiveness. 

    3. In Company with Thomas: Perhaps history has given Thomas a bad rap. But in him, the Lord has given us a great gift: he reminds us that he comes out to meet us where and as we are. He doesn’t wait till we are perfect to seek us out; he doesn’t wait till we are faultless to invite us to follow him and share in his mission. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said of this instance of St. Thomas, “It comforts us in our insecurity… because it shows us that every doubt can lead to an outcome brighter than any uncertainty; and, lastly, because the words that Jesus addressed to him remind us of the true meaning of mature faith and encourage us to persevere, despite the difficulty, along our journey of adhesion to him.” Let us take great comfort in this brother and Apostle, Thomas, and like him, let the Lord draw our hands to his own, to find in Thomas’s woundedness our own, and to gain strength for the journey of faith before us. 

    Conversing with Christ: Jesus, you went out to seek your Apostles, your friends, because you knew how much they needed you. I also need you. Come out and meet me—here, behind the locked doors of my fears and doubts. I do believe, Lord; help my unbelief. 

    Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will prepare myself for my next confession. 

    For Further Reflection: You may wish to renew your fervor in approaching the sacrament of Confession or your depth of preparation with some of these excellent videos from Ascension Presents. 


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