Second Sunday of Easter

Reflection: Thomas didn’t see the new reality


Seeing is believing. Is that today’s theme? Perhaps.

Folks hear today’s Gospel and think of Thomas the doubter. What about thinking of Thomas as the guy determined to walk the walk and not just talk the talk?

Consider it. How was Thomas to comprehend the meaning of what his companions told him when they said, “We have seen the Lord?” He knew these men and their tendency to believe what they wanted.

Maybe things would have been different if Thomas had conversed more with Mary Magdalene. He knew that he and the rest of the guys had steered clear of the cross while Mary and other women remained with Jesus in helpless, silent solidarity. (John is the only evangelist to put a male disciple there; that was “the beloved disciple” who plays a rich, symbolic role throughout his Gospel.)

On the other hand, Mary and her companions went seeking despite the hopelessness of the situation. They became the first witnesses to the Resurrection, thus, our sequence asks, “Speak, Mary, declaring what you saw wayfaring.” 

And she responds, “Christ my hope is risen, to Galilee he goes before you!”

While the majority of the disciples hid in fear behind locked doors, Mary had gone out to find hope in the midst of tragedy. Whatever Thomas was doing, he was not hiding with the others. Was he, too, “wayfaring?” Was he looking for more than the others had offered him? 

What they said sounded delusional — and this was hardly the first time that he thought that way about their ideas. Doesn’t it make sense that if the disciples really believed that Jesus had risen, they would no longer be in hiding, that they would be different?

At this point, Luke’s description of the early community offers us some insight. Luke is bragging on the early community and the deep solidarity that flowed from their faith. Even if Luke exaggerates, he’s holding up an ideal for us.

Luke tells us that after believing in the testimony of the apostles, the community responded by acting like people who had discovered the meaning of their lives and for whom nothing else mattered. Luke said that they were of one heart and mind. 

They demonstrated this by considering themselves such a unified community that everyone would seek what another needed. No one could even imagine hoarding; that would have undermined their new identity. Their love and concern included all: They were one. This was their new identity in Christ.

Thomas didn’t see anything like that in his friends in those first days after Jesus’ resurrection. He didn’t see them changed. Nothing about them told him that they were living a new reality.

Then, while Thomas was with them (explaining his disappointment?), Jesus again appeared in their midst and blessed them with peace. Looking to Thomas he said, “Come, look at my wounds, touch the scars and signs of death and see that even this extreme of evil did not win. I accepted all this believing that my Father would transform everything. Now, let’s continue the transformation, beginning with you — all of you.”

What Jesus offered them was nothing less than what he had prayed for in John 17:21, 23: “May they be one as you and I are, I in them and them in me that the world may know that you sent me.” 

The concrete sign of their new unity was that the Holy Spirit drew them into community where they overcame narrow self-concern and judgment. Forgiveness of one another functioned like allowing a wound to heal, of ceasing to pick at a scab. Forgiveness was the only medicine that would allow their whole body to heal. 

Like Jesus, everyone who had been injured would have scars — but those scars could become signs that injury was not the final word among them. 

When Jesus appeared, he bequeathed them his own mission: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Those disciples had seen how Jesus lived his mission – never focusing on sin, but drawing forth each person’s greatest potential. That was now their call.

The invitation to believe in the Resurrection asks for a leap of faith that starts with our heart, our hands and our feet, not our intellect. If we believe in the Resurrection, in Jesus’ victory over all evil, we will be liberated. 

When we proclaim, “Lord, by your cross you have set us free,” we claim the freedom to love everyone as a part of ourselves, to learn the healing practice of forgiveness and the freedom that comes from the power of the Holy Spirit, who is the only one who can accomplish this in us.

When this happens, the world will be able to touch the reality of the Gospel in us and come to believe.

Reading I

(Acts 4: 32-35)

The community of believers was of one heart and mind,
and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,
but they had everything in common.
With great power the apostles bore witness
to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
and great favor was accorded them all.
There was no needy person among them,
for those who owned property or houses would sell them,
bring the proceeds of the sale,
and put them at the feet of the apostles,
and they were distributed to each according to need.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 118: 2-4, 13-15,22-24)

R. Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting.

Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let those who fear the LORD say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
R. Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting.

I was hard pressed and was falling,
but the LORD helped me.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
The joyful shout of victory
in the tents of the just:
R. Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting.

The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting.

Reading II

(I John 5: 1-6)

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and blood.
The Spirit is the one that testifies,
and the Spirit is truth.


(John 20: 19-31)

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nail marks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked, 
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.