Dear Followers of the Risen Christ,
We all experience fear. Sometimes we even hide from our futures when we are afraid. This is the scene from today’s gospel, John 20:19-31. The disciples remain behind locked doors because they are afraid that they will be killed in the same manner as their friend Jesus. The doors are locked and so are their hearts. The panic-driven disciples are hiding from the truth of Jesus’ resurrection.
Jesus appears to the disciples when they need him the most, in the tightness of fear. His first words behind these locked doors are, “Peace be with you.” Peace is surefooted hope. Peace is offered and remains with them. Even for our lives today, peace is transformative of fear when we all see the face of Jesus.
Thomas was not in the circle of fear. The following week, Thomas is with them and the fear-stricken disciples were once again wringing their hands. Thomas approaches Jesus and touches Jesus’ wounds. Thomas lets go of his own fear and professes to his new family, “My Lord and my God.”
The Easter season gives us hope no matter our own fear. The Easter season shows us that to really believe in Jesus’ resurrection, we also must touch the wounded and redeemed Body of Christ. Where is the Body of Christ today? The Body of Christ is here in our world in those who suffer and those who are afraid. The Body of Christ is in Syria. They Body of Christ is in Chicago in urban violence. The Body of Christ sits at our kitchen tables in the fears and stories of our children. The Body of Christ is people today in need of love, tenderness and peace. We must be willing to reach out beyond our fear and experience the redeeming love and mercy of Jesus in our day.
Today is also known as “Divine Mercy” Sunday. The mercy that Jesus gave Thomas and the disciples happens in our lives as well. Jesus wants the best for us, especially in this Easter season. Today love is incarnate in fear, in doubt and in our worries about tomorrow.
Each year on the Saturday after Easter, The Congregation of Holy Cross ordains our men priests at the University of Notre Dame. This year, two men are now new priests. However, this gospel on Thomas appears every year on The Second Sunday of Easter. So, each new priest preaches on Thomas’ touching of the Body of Christ. This year is Fr. Bob’s 30th anniversary and my 34th anniversary in the priesthood. Let’s pray for all who face doubt and like the disciples, hope that Jesus will reveal compassion and mercy to us all.
The disciples were lost in fear and then found themselves in Jesus’ mercy again. Their mission and purpose were restored with Thomas’ faith. So is ours.
Blessings in this Easter Season,