Second Sunday of Easter
First reading: Acts 4:32-35
Responsorial Psalm: 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
Second reading: 1 Jn 5:1-6
Gospel: Jn 20:19-31
By Jem Sullivan
Jesus often praised the faith of ordinary people he encountered during his earthly ministry: the man born blind, the leper shunned by the community, the Samaritan woman at the well, the royal official at Capernaum whose son was ill, and the paralytic at the pool.
Each of these men and women heard about Jesus and immediately put their faith in his power to heal, reconcile and restore to life.
The Easter season is a time to journey to deeper faith in Jesus. It is a graced season when we see how our lives are patterned after Jesus’ saving death and resurrection as we die to sin and rise to new life in him.
But like the apostle Thomas, we struggle with doubt. Just like Thomas, we too need signs and wonders, tangible and concrete proof of God’s love and mercy.
After his glorious resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples at various places and moments. When he came to them on the lake shore, on the road to Emmaus and in the breaking of bread, they must have been astonished, joyful and afraid. Yet seeing the Lord in his risen body was a first step on their journey to Easter faith and to their witness as his missionary disciples.
Thomas was not with them when the risen Jesus appeared to the disciples. So it is not surprising that his heart is filled with doubt when he hears the disciples speak of their encounter with the risen Lord. He wants to see, touch and hear for himself.
Jesus knew the yearning of Thomas for certitude. He understood the desire of Thomas to know for certain that Jesus’ death was not the final chapter in the story of God’s loving plan of salvation. And so Jesus appears to the disciples once again, in the presence of Thomas. And his words to Thomas are spoken to each one of us as well.
As we read the word of God and seek to deepen our faith in Jesus, we learn what it means to see with the eyes of faith. We come to understand that “faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1).
Jesus invites Thomas to place his hand in his wounded side. What an invitation to faith that must have been! And then Jesus tells Thomas to set aside doubt and believe in him. Thomas responds with the words of a true disciple: “My Lord and my God!” And then Jesus blesses all those who believe with the eyes of faith.
During this Easter season may we find in the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection the path of our journey of hope in the power of the redeeming cross of Jesus Christ, as we say in faith, “speak to me, Lord.”
What does Jesus’ encounter with Thomas teach us about the act of faith?
Sullivan is secretary for Catholic education of the Archdiocese of Washington.