Seeing and Believing

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

April 24th, 2022 – Second Sunday of Easter - John 20:19-31

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I am a history buff. And the scope of history that interests me the most is what I would call “Big History.” The history that extends all the way back to the origin of our Universe, a mere 13.8 billion years ago. I also try to learn as much as I can about the Earth’s history which, if you want to know, goes back a mere 4.7 billion years ago when trillions of specs of dust, originally created as a result of a giant exploding star, gradually, due to the force of gravity, formed a planet on which you and I live. Then there’s the history of plants, of animals and fish, all leading up to the history of humans, beginning a brief 200,000 years back. As time unfolds, we learn that rather remarkable things were happening, day by day, year by year.

All this comes to my mind when reading today’s gospel describing the scene where the doubting Thomas (one of my favorite apostles) is the last of the original eleven to meet the Risen Jesus. He learned from others that Jesus is alive. He is a little dubious.

So, he requested what might be called historical evidence about this amazing event. He wanted proof that the one his colleagues claim to be alive is really the same one he knew and followed as Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus suddenly appears. Thomas steps forward for a better look. He asks to touch wounds that he knew Jesus had suffered during his crucifixion. He wanted an historical link between what happened on Good Friday to Jesus and the one who now was present to him. He got his wish.

What I take from this is that Jesus lives now and remains connected with our personal history. His continues to be present and involved in our lives. He is known to us though what some call “the eyes of faith.” We also affirm that Jesus remains present to us in word and sacrament, in what we learn and in what we experience in formal church liturgy. Catholics place special emphasis on his presence in the Eucharist. Other Christian groups describe the presence of Jesus in the biblical word, read, preached and acknowledged.

But the presence of the Risen Christ can also be in the midst of our daily lives. We may not immediately recognize this, maybe because we don’t expect it, or we are too focused on other things. Notice that the first appearances of the Risen Christ were in many different settings. In a locked room, during a breaking of the bread at a village outside Jerusalem, on a beach at the shore of Lake Galilee. And often he was not immediately recognized in most of these instances. Like it is with us! So, take another look to find Christ alongside you as you walk each day in your life’s journey.      

©David M. Thomas, PhD

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