24 April 2022 at Saint William Catholic Church in Naples, FL
Acts of the Apostles 5, 12-16 + Psalm 118 + Revelation 1,9-11, 12-13, 17-19 + John 20, 19-31
The disciples encountered a transformed, divine Being, not a resuscitated corpse. They recognized their friend and teacher, Jesus of Nazareth, but he was now their Lord in glory. That is what this Gospel reveals to us about those gathered in that room. They are not fact checking the story of those women who went to the empty tomb. There is a life-changing experience going on here. Doubt and Fear are giving way to Faith and Hope. How that happens is what John is describing in these verses.
For Thomas, faith did not come easily. Yet because of his relationship with those other disciples and because of their relationship with Jesus, he could move deeply into the mystery only believers can understand. He wanted to “see” with human eyes, and when he did, his mind and heart saw the glory of God moving him to proclaim what had been so hard to see before the crucifixion and death. Suddenly, at that moment, Thomas realized that the effects of evil, horrible as they were, were not the greatest power, because love and forgiveness are.
For Jesus, the mission was not quite complete. There was more to do than conquer death. He had to draw them from doubt and fear to faith and hope. The one Thomas wanted to touch ended up touching Thomas with that divine love and mercy he had spoken of again and again. Jesus could now finish his work. He breathed on them, and with that act, they came to life recreated and restored. It is, once again, the very moment of creation when God breaths for life. Now they are truly friends with God just as God intended.
The Word of God, the Son of God stands before them and says: “Shalom”. It is a word that has no English equivalent. It describes wholeness. For the ancient ones, it described the mending of a net. It has to do with putting together what is broken. When Jesus spoke, that word is was not a wish, but an announcement that he was there in their midst, and their relationship with him was not broken by death. This peace is not something we can produce for ourselves. It is something given and proclaimed by God in Christ. It is a wholeness. It is unity.
Peace with God comes first. Without it, there can be no peace among us. For believers, it is the total restoration of the relationship broken by sin. It comes with forgiveness, and that power of forgiveness is released through that breath. Forgiveness of sin is the primary work of God’s Spirit. We who have received the Spirit have found Peace with God and carry on his mission of forgiveness which was the driving force in Jesus Christ. It was his mission, forgiveness. This is what brings people into union with God and one another. It generates the peace that Jesus proclaimed.
This then is the purpose of life for believers, forgiveness. In that act of forgiveness, we experience the mercy of God and share that Divine Mercy with all who live in brokenness, loneliness, and misery. Thomas helps us to understand today that faith is a living relationship with Jesus. Life in Christ is not a program to master or perfect, but an endless mystery that will guide us through this life into an eternity of discovery and joy.