2nd Sunday of Easter Lectio Divina, April 11, 2021

2nd Sunday of Easter Lectio Divina, April 11, 2021

 

READ

Jn 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 nailmarks 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.

MEDITATE

“As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

If there’s any doubt about the divine ordination of priests, Christ quells it here. Sure, all baptized Christians are commissioned by Christ to spread the gospel, but the disciples and their successors, our bishops and priests, are commissioned in a special way.

“he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them …’

There is so much about the mystery of God revealed in these lines. God is giving the disciples the sacrament of confession. These words are the source of the teaching that it is God himself who forgives sins in confession, while the priest sits in God’s place. Moreover, the Holy Spirit comes to the disciples via the breath of Christ. Christ thereby proves that he and the Holy Spirit
are one, just as he and the Father are one (John 17:21). The words “confession” and “Trinity” may not be anywhere in the Bible, but the Church’s teaching on them are affirmed right here in Jesus’ own words.


“Unless I see the mark … I will not believe.”


This agnostic approach to the truth has robbed so many people of deeper faith. It’s understandable that St. Thomas didn’t just accept what the disciples were saying. It was quite unbelievable, after all. Also, we shouldn’t just go by someone’s mere word when looking to affirm if something is true. “Seeing the mark” should be a requirement of ours before believing. But St. Thomas had seen the mark many times before, through Jesus’ miracles, and he spoke of rising from the dead in his teaching. St. Thomas’ doubt shows lack of faith not because he should have just trusted the apostles, but because of the wonders Christ had already revealed to him. This is true for us many times as well. How many times has God acted in our lives definitively and distinctly, in ways that couldn’t possibly be just a coincidence? And yet how many times have we simply dismissed his intervention, because we forgot of all the past times he had acted in our lives in a similar way, or because we figure sometimes life is just serendipitous like that. Indeed, life is serendipitous, but that’s because God is actively intervening in our lives. Thomas is at fault for his doubt because of the context. Just like we have experienced God’s grace in our lives, he had experienced it as well--even moreso. And yet he still did not believe. This is not a criticism of St. Thomas, but only an emphasis on how much he is just like us. If we were in his shoes that day he was told Christ rose from the dead, would we have said the same thing? Would we have played the agnostic while ignoring all of the signs of God’s power revealed to us in the past? Or would we have trusted the disciples, putting the puzzle pieces together, and noticing that it makes sense for Jesus to have risen from the dead, since he has already shown us that he is capable of all things, even conquering the grave as he did for Lazarus?

“My Lord and my God”


Is Thomas being redundant here? Don’t “Lord” and “God” mean the same thing to the disciples, at least in their understanding of the titles? Well, no. By “Lord,” Thomas was saying Jesus is his master, the one he follows and obeys. It is a title that a servant would give to his overlord. It is significant to call Christ “Lord,” sure. After all, to most people on the Roman Empire, Caesar was Lord. Calling anyone else “Lord” could get someone living in the empire into serious trouble. But Thomas is going a step further here. He is not just calling Jesus, “Lord”. He probably already considered Jesus to be his Lord, so if he just said, “My Lord” when he met Christ after the crucifixion, one could say that Thomas was just accepting the reality that it was indeed Jesus, his Lord, whom he was  encountering. But Thomas also says, “My God.” Did Thomas believe Jesus was God before this point? We know St. Peter did. Maybe the other disciples did as well. It’s even more likely that they did after witnessing his resurrection. But Thomas did not witness it until that point. Was this the very moment Thomas accepted Jesus as not just his Lord, but also his God? Was it in this moment that Thomas acknowledged Jesus as the creator of the universe, the giver of life, the God of his forefathers who performed all the miracles he had been learning about from his youth? If this is the revelation Thomas is receiving in this moment, it is especially significant. Thomas is the skeptic among the disciples, saying, “Unless I see the marks ... I will not believe.” So if even he, a skeptic, was coming to believe by seeing Christ that day, perhaps even the greatest skeptics in our lives would be convinced that Jesus is God after an encounter with the resurrected Christ as well. May we pray for the skeptics in our lives to experience just that, because the resurrected Christ is still among us after all. Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed. One could easily believe that Jesus is just talking about belief in his resurrection. Of course, he is talking about that. But let’s not forget that it’s not only true that Jesus rose from the dead. It’s just as true that he is risen from the dead. That’s why you will see it written on the signs on people’s lawns and church marquees as, “He is risen,” to emphasize the fact that Christ is alive and among us today.


PRAY

Lord and Savior, give us the gift of faith so we may more fervently believe in your resurrection. You are the source of faith, and you will give us more, if we only ask. If only more people knew that. Teach us more about the ways you are always there waiting for us to ask for your graces. Resurrected Jesus, bring us to new life also. In your name we pray. Amen.

LISTEN


Now that we have listened to God’s word, and the rich treasury of truths therein, let us take a moment to contemplate the mystery of Christ rising from the dead. It is more than just a story. There is proof that Christ is risen all around us. Take the time to notice that.

 

 

David Kilby is a Freelance Writer from New Jersey and Managing Editor of Catholic World Report.
 
Glory to the Father The Son and The Holy Spirit


 
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