April 16, 2023
Sister Jan Ginzkey, OSB shares a reflection on the scripture readings: Acts 2:42 – 47; Psalm 118; 1 Peter 1:3 – 9; John 20: 19 – 31
The Acts of the Apostles describes the ideal of community life. The author tells us that everyone was devoted to the teachings of the disciples. They gathered to pray, break bread, rejoice in the teachings and resurrection of Christ. The sense of community was built upon the foundation of mutual care, justice and equitable distribution to each and every member of the community. Such an ideal community is a worthy goal in our families, local communities, national, and global world today.
Psalm 118 reminds us that God’s love is everlasting. What a comfort this is in our polarized, warring world. God gives us hope that we can always count on his loving presence. It is up to each of us to share God’s love each day.
The first letter of Peter was addressed to the gentile converts in what is today Turkey.
Scholars think it was written towards the end of the first century by a disciple of Simon Peter. The message is clear. Their faith is based on their trust in God. We can also rejoice because though we do not see Jesus, we believe. We are blessed.
In the Gospel Jesus greets his disciples with compassion, “Peace be with you.” He doesn’t remind them of their betrayal, denial, or abandonment. Jesus reassures them that he is truly risen. “Peace be with you” he says a second time. Jesus even wants to give them the gift of the Holy Spirit. Are we able to accept such peace and the Holy Spirit? Can we learn and act by not holding grudges, not gossiping, or being so passively complicit in systemic injustices?
Have you ever wondered why Jesus appeared to the other disciples while Thomas wasn’t present? Was Thomas getting food or supplies for those locked in the upper room? Was he scouting to see if it was safe to come out of hiding because of fear? Two theologians, Eleanor Stump and John Foley S J, suggest very human reasons for Thomas’ response. Thomas may have needed time and space to process his feelings and to accept the reality of the events of Jesus’ arrest, trial, conviction, crucifixion, and burial. This would be too much to assimilate for most of us in a week.
Thomas had followed Jesus for three years. Thomas believed Jesus could be the promised Messiah. Thomas heard all of Jesus’ teachings. He had witnessed all the
miracles. Thomas loved Jesus. How could all of Thomas’ hopes and expectations be so completely shattered?
Have you ever been so disappointed? Thomas felt betrayed, who could he trust now?
He surely didn’t want to be hurt again. Thomas was in the midst of denial in his grieving process. When the others told Thomas that Jesus was alive and had appeared to them, his response was, “No Way!” How could this be true? Did he dare hope? Could he be vulnerable and risk being heartbroken again? Thomas wanted hard evidence that Jesus was alive. Imagine wanting to put his finger in the nail holes and his hand in Jesus’ side.
When Jesus appeared a week later, Thomas had been pondering and hoping that it was true that Jesus was risen. Upon seeing Jesus, Thomas was the first to declare, “My Lord and my God.” He proclaimed Jesus’ humanity and divinity. Thomas’ doubt and unbelief led to a much deeper faith.
Jesus promised that his love was eternal like the psalmist declared. Jesus still gives us, you and me, his blessing and compassionate love. He tells us, “Blessed are you who have not seen and yet believe.”