April 19, 2020 Octave Day of Easter / Divine Mercy Sunday
Welcome Father Cyril Today’s Readings: Acts 2:42-47 | 1 Pt 1:3-9 | Jn 20:19-31
Doubting or Believing Thomas?
As these challenging and uncertain days continue, in today’s gospel we meet the apostle who is forever known as ‘Doubting Thomas.’ After all their hopes and plans had been dashed, the apostles are hiding in case the Romans find them and do to them what they did to Jesus. They are afraid, anxious, worried and doing all they can to protect and save themselves; perhaps like so many around the world today because of the Coronavirus. Perhaps now more than ever we have sense of what they were experiencing. All they had hoped and believed in had been taken from them. All seemed lost and hopeless.
And so, what seems to be out of nowhere, Jesus appears and causally says, ‘Peace be with you.’ Jesus stands with them and offers them his peace at their time of greatest need. To prove beyond all doubt that it is him, Jesus shows them the signs of his sufferings; his hands and his side. Clearly they needed concrete proof and evidence to convince them! Then Jesus commissions them with carrying on his ministry and mission. However, one of the group is missing; Thomas. When he returns, the others tell him that Lord had appeared to them and had spoken to them. However, just like them earlier, he not convinced and he too needs some real proof and evidence before he believes what they have told him. He wants to see Jesus with his own eyes!
When Jesus reappears eight days later, Thomas is with the others this time. Again, Jesus wishes them peace. Then he speaks directly to Thomas and invites him to puts his fingers into this wounds as proof of his presence and resurrection. Jesus even asks for Thomas’ hand, but we are not actually told that Thomas did in fact put his finger into the wounds of Jesus. Instead he prays the great prayer that we still use today, ‘My Lord and my God!’ This is not the prayer of one who doubts, but the prayer of someone who has faith and believes.
Without any question these are challenging and difficult times for all of us at a local, national and global level. We may feel like the apostles, while not hiding, we are being asked to keep our distance from others and even ‘self-isolate.’ We may feel more like Thomas than ever before; doubting, unsure and even afraid. But just as Jesus stood with his friends and brought them his peace at their time of greatest need, the same risen Lord says to you and me this very day, ‘Peace be with you.’ We are not alone.
When we pray ‘I confess’ at that the start of mass, there are these great words, ‘I ask you my brother and sisters to pray for me to the Lord our God.’ Now more than ever, rather than doubt, we are being called to pray with and for each other and the whole world. The Risen Lord is with us; he offer us his life-giving peace. Can we like Thomas respond in faith as we say together, ‘My Lord and my God?’
Risen Lord, during these challenging days, come to us, stay with and stand with us. Open our hearts, so that we can hear and receive your words; Peace be with you.
Source: Reflection by Br Michael Moore OMI, Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, https://oblates.ie/gospel-reflection-sunday-19th-april/ Photo by J.Hannan-Briggs: Doubting Thomas stained glass, Norwich Cathedral, https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3876171 (CC BY-SA 2.0)
- 19 April - In accordance with the current guidelines, Masses in the Archdiocese of Freiburg and thus in Heidelberg are expected to stay suspended until May 3, 2020 at least. We will of course keep you updated in case of any changes!