The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
April 19, 2020 – Second Sunday of Easter - John 20:19-31
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I have a special appreciation of Thomas the Apostle. Not just because we share names but because he asked questions. If he had a doubt, he tried to find out more. Today we are given the wonderful account of his struggle with what the other disciples saw when he was somewhere else. Jesus appeared to his followers who were in hiding because they feared that they would be rounded up by the authorities who had recently crucified Jesus. They told Thomas what had happened in his absence. And true to form, Thomas was skeptical.
But to help Thomas overcome his doubt, Jesus again appeared. But seeing Jesus – as miraculous as that was – was not enough for Thomas. He wanted more. He wanted to touch the wounds of Jesus. Just seeing for him was not enough for his believing. Notice that the Risen Jesus did not criticise Thomas for wanting more. He knew that each of us had needs when it comes to believing that something is true or not. So, as the narrative goes, Thomas touches the wounds and then gives us this wonderful expression of belief when he addresses Jesus as “My Lord and my God.”
Not only is there this full expression of belief in Jesus as risen, but there’s something important about how this “Thomas event” shows us a direct connection between what happened during the earthly life of Jesus and his life afterwards as risen. Wounds before his death remain there after his death. In fact, all that happened “before” carried forward into what constituted the “after.”
When I was a child in St. Joseph’s School in Indiana many years ago, the nuns taught me that God keeps a complete record of what we do now here on Earth. That record will be used to determine how God will judge me after I die. I must add that this was not a lesson I enjoyed learning, nor one that I could easily forget. This all came back to me in reading this Sunday’s gospel, but I saw something new in the connection between the present and the future.
The great good that Jesus accomplished during his life and death does not end with his earthly death. It’s all carried over into what follows. Maybe Thomas wondered about this and therefore asked to see the wounds of Jesus. Did the past of Jesus connect with his new risen life? Apparently, it did. And might this also be true for us? Important to note is that today’s gospel narrative also speaks of God’s forgiveness. Thus, we can hope that for the bad in our lives, there is God’s mercy. And for all the good that we have done, it will remain part of our joy forever.
©David M. Thomas, PhD