Second Sunday of Easter
Gospel: John 20: 19-31
The story of “Doubting Thomas” is always told on the Second Sunday of Easter - and is, in fact, the only Gospel that is used in all three Years of the liturgical cycle. Perhaps, a point is being made!
Fresh from the Triduum Liturgy, we have again reflected on the cruel death of Jesus - experienced the emptiness and sense of loss after the solemn liturgy - shared the anticipation of the Easter Vigil - gathering in darkness, a people longing for the return of the light.
The Liturgy can speak to us so deeply that we can be tempted to feel that our faith in the Resurrection is secure. We can also be tempted to believe that, had we been in Thomas’ place, we would have accepted the words of those around us. There may be a few of us who would trust the words - but most of us would share Thomas’ scepticism - a disbelief born of deep grief.
How many of us have longed for someone who has died to say just one more word - share one more embrace? How cruel it would be if people around us claimed that they had seen the one we love - but, because we hadn’t happened to be present, that glimpse - that moment of knowing they are still alive had been denied us.
Would we accept it graciously - rejoicing with the others? Or would our pain speak for us - our grief and disbelief?
The difference between such a circumstance and the story of Thomas is that Jesus does return and offer him a glimpse of what Resurrection means. He does not condemn Thomas’ failure to believe - but recognises his deep human need to see - to touch - to hear - in order to believe.
Such a gift was not to be for everyone - Jesus would soon return to the Father. Everyone who came to faith in him would have to come to it without seeing him - or touching him. They would have to trust the witness of those who had been present - and allow the seed of faith to grow in the absence of words and touches of reassurance.
For many in the generations that followed, faith and disbelief would be close companions: their prayer, “Lord, I believe - Lord, help my unbelief”.
What does this mean for me?