Second Sunday of Easter, Year B
Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ’s Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then 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.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told 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 in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
Faith from the Margins to the Web Authors: Steven and Harrison
Steven and Harrison are both men of great faith, who met each other the first time for this bible study. Their conversation unfolded deeply and beautifully, even from this first meeting.
Steven began “What I really see the most out of this is the amount of disbelief, between both the disciples and the Jews, because he says the disciples had locked the doors in fear of the Jews, it says. But Jesus comes and says, ‘Peace be with you’ and he meant that message for everyone…the disciples and the Jews…because he wanted peace.”
“I never really thought of that!” said Harrison, “the locked door, and the fear it represents. That’s really neat. I’m struck by that word ‘peace,’ which is what Jesus says. It is the first word he greets people with after the resurrection. The way you mention: fear, behind locked doors. Peace was probably the most important thing for them to feel and to believe.”
Steven and Harrison talked about the scripture…the way in which Jesus showed his hands and his side to help their belief. But Thomas, not there during that first meeting, couldn’t quite fathom the belief that other disciples showed.
“Thomas wanted to verify it for himself” said Harrison.
“The other disciple tells him, ‘We have seen the Lord,’ but Thomas hadn’t seen for himself” noted Steven, thoughtfully. “But he said to them, unless I see the mark and feel the nails, I won’t believe. That’s Thomas saying, ‘I need to have the experience you had so that I can believe!’ ”
“They probably did believe, before he died” said Harrison, “that didn’t fit into the idea of who the Messiah was. But when they saw him, it was like their belief was resurrected. We hear Thomas doubting, but really, they all shared in that doubt. It raises an interesting question to me: you know, you can think you believe something, but then when things don’t materialize the way that you expect them to, your belief crumbles apart. Something doesn’t work out the way I expect God would have it turn out, and that shakes my belief.”
“Sometimes bad things happen for good, but it’s hard to hold onto that” said Steven.
Harrison replied, “But, when you do see God show up at the very end, faithful and true, even when the very bad things happen, then your faith is a little stronger.”
When it came to discussing how this Gospel related to their own lives, Steven and Harrison both had poignant answers.
Steven described how it was for him: “I have faith, even though I’m not really sure God is going to answer my prayers. I think, God may have something in store for me. There are many times that my faith was shaken, that all the doors closed. But then, God would lead me out, show me a circumstance, show me a way out that I couldn’t see before.”
Harrison related the most difficult time in his own life, when his son was tragically killed in a car accident. “I had just finished watching a movie where the message was about someone who was sending his family a message that he was OK with dying. Then, this phone call comes. And I thought, ‘God, how could you send me a message like that, but not stop the accident?” My life has been a lot of wrestling like that.”
“You know” said Steven, “I think our whole lives are going to be about questioning God. I learned that you can question God, and talk with God, and still believe. Maybe sometimes God has to show Himself.”
“I wonder if Jesus came that second time, just to see Thomas, just to show himself because he knew that Thomas needed that in order to believe” said Harrison.
Steven said, “You know, it reminds me. Sometimes you have to look around and see your life, see the way God is working in your life. If we don’t open our eyes to it, we can’t see. Then, when we open our eyes, we see how God is working.”
“I wonder, Steven, what does faith add to your life?” asked Harrison.
“Faith adds comfort, hope, resilience, and truth” said Steven, with thoughtful intention.
“For me, it’s that something wakes up in me because of faith” said Harrison. “It means that whatever it costs it will be worth it to do the right thing, the loving thing, the honest thing.”