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Friday, April 28, 2017

Spirituality: The Second Sunday of Easter

Today’s Gospel reading is John 20:19-31, St. Thomas and the Risen Lord.

[Meditating] on the story of Doubting Thomas, the disciple who had not been present when Christ appeared to the disciples that first Easter evening, and so had – understandably – refused to believe that Jesus had risen:

And who among us hasn’t at some moment doubted? Did I not doubt [in my meditation two days ago] the whole necessary, implausible meeting between Mary and Jesus. Hadn’t Jesus himself trembled with fright the night before he died, asking his Father to remove the cup of his agony, if it were possible. Maybe Peter had been right. There had to be another way, without a crucifixion. But there hadn’t. A Resurrection needs a death. Unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground …

He stands in for all of us this Thomas, doesn’t he? A skeptic who put it as baldly and you can. Unless I can see the holes the nails made in his hands, AND unless I put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I will not believe. This hard-nosed Thomas who, when Jesus had set his face toward Jerusalem and his oncoming death, had remarked, Let us also go to die with him. Thomas the fatalist. Thomas the realist.

Now, a week after Easter, the disciples are again gathered behind locked doors and this time Thomas is with them. Again Jesus appears in their midst. Peace be with you, he says. And then, turning directly to Thomas: Here are my hands. Put your finger here [in the nail hole]. Now, give me your hand and put it into my side. Do not be unbelieving any more, but believe. And with that, Thomas utters one of the most profound gestures of belief found anywhere in the Gospels. My Lord, he says. And my God. They are words millions have said – and still say – whenever the host is raised at the Consecration. And Jesus’ gentle rebuke: You believe, Thomas, because you can see me. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.

Somehow we arrive at our yes or no. Whether it be a single transformative moment or a lifetime of questioning, pray with all you have that it be yes. With Paul on the road to Damascus, the yes was sudden and unmistakable. With Augustine, on the road to Rome, it took decades. “Lord, change my heart,” he once prayed. “But not yet.”

Source:       Paul Mariani, Thirty Days: On Retreat with the Exercises of St. Ignatius, pp. 242-243.

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