Tag Archives: Thomas

The Easter Season: a School of Faith

Nicodemus

Nicodemus reminds us that faith doesn’t depend on how sharp our minds are or how many books we’ve read. Faith is God’s gift to us. We are all still in the school of faith.

On Friday of the Second Week of Easter we begin reading from John’s gospel about Jesus multiplying the loaves and fish near the Sea of Galilee. (John 6) There’s a lot of unbelief in the crowd that Jesus feeds, according to John. “Many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him,” . Besides those who radically reject Jesus’ claim to be the bread come down from heaven,  others appear to have little appreciation for this great sign. Commentators suspect this this section of John’s gospel may indicate there were troubles over the Eucharist and over the identity of Jesus in the churches John is writing for.

Most of the gospel readings for the last weeks of the Easter season are taken from the Farewell Discourse in John’s gospel. There too the disciples seem far from perfect. They’re fearful, they seem to understand Jesus so little. He calls them “little children,”  not far removed from the children making their Communion this season.

There are no perfect believers  in the gospels of our Easter season. Plenty of imperfect believers, like us, which tells us that faith is something to pray and struggle for. More importantly, they reveal the goodness of Jesus, who showed the wounds in his hands and his side to Thomas, who never dismissed Nicodemus to the night, who came to table with his disciples and fed them again, who called them “his own” and prayed that they would not fail.

We’re in a school of faith in the Easter season where the Risen Christ speaks to us in signs like water, bread and wine, words that promise a world beyond ours and teach us how to live in our world today.  He is our Teacher and Lord.

The Thomas in us all

Thomas

Some things — like telling time or tying your shoes — you learn once, but we know Jesus Christ gradually, day by day. Human and divine, he makes himself known to us as he promises and as we are ready to receive him.

That’s why Thomas, the apostle, whose feast is today, is such an important figure. Far from being a lonely skeptic, an isolated dissenter, he represents the slowness of heart and mind, the recurrent skepticism, that affects us all.

Yet, Thomas is a sign of hope. He reminds us that the Risen Jesus offers, even to the most unconvinced, the power to believe.

Lord Jesus,
the Thomas in us all
needs the wounds in your hands and side,
to call us to believe
you are our Lord and God.

Risen, present everywhere,
bless those who have not seen,
blind with doubts
or weakened faith, or no faith at all.

Bless us, Lord,
from your wounded hands and side,
strengthen our faith
to believe in you.

Ist Sunday of Easter: The Thomas in Us All

Audio of the homily below:

The yearly feast of Easter is a celebration, not of one day, but of fifty days, from Holy Saturday till the feast of Pentecost. We also celebrate Easter each Sunday of the year.

Why this extensive celebration? Because we’re so slow to realize what it means, and need reminding over and over.

Some things — like telling time or tying our shoes — we learn once, but the resurrection of Jesus is a mystery not learned at once. Never grasped completely, it unfolds as life unfolds, day by day.

That’s why Thomas, the apostle, whom we remember on the 2nd Sunday of Easter, is such an important figure. Far from being a lonely skeptic, an isolated dissenter, he represents the slowness of heart and mind, the recurrent skepticism, that affects us all.

Yet, Thomas is still a sign of hope. He reminds us that the Risen Jesus offers, even to the most unconvinced, the power to believe.

Lord Jesus,
the Thomas in us all
needs the wounds in your hands and side,
to call us to believe
you are our Lord and God.

Risen, present everywhere,
bless those who have not seen,
blind with doubts
and weakened faith.

Bless us, Lord,
from your wounded hands and side,
give us faith
to believe in you.

Spanish
El Tomás Dentro de Todos Nosotros
Juán 20, 19-31, Segundo Domingo de Pascua

La fiesta anual de Pascua florida es una celebración, no de un día, sino de cincuenta días, desde el Sábado Santo hasta la fiesta de Pentecostés. También celebramos el Domingo de Pascua cada domingo del año.

¿Por qué esta extensa celebración? Porque somos tan lentos en realizar lo que significa, y también necesitamos ser recordados una y otra vez.

Algunas cosas – como leer el reloj o amarrarnos los zapatos – las aprendemos una sola vez, pero la resurrección de Jesús es un misterio que no se aprende de una vez. Nunca comprendido completamente, se revela gradualmente mientras la vida se despliega día por día.

Por eso es que Tomás, el apóstol a quien recordamos el Segundo Domingo de Pascua, es una figura tan importante. Lejos de ser un escéptico solitario, un disidente aislado, él representa la lentitud de corazón y mente, el esceptisismo recurrente, que nos afecta a todos.

Sin embargo, Tomás sigue siendo un signo de esperanza. Él nos recuerda que el Jesús Resucitado nos ofrece hasta el menos convencido de nosotros, el poder de creer.

Señor Jesús, el Tomás en todos nosotros
necesita las heridas de tu costado y manos,
llamándonos a creer que eres nuestro Señor y Dios.
Resucitado, presente en todas partes,
bendice a los que no han visto,
ciegos con dudas y fé debilitada.
Bendícenos Señor; a través de tus heridas manos y costado,
danos fé para creer en Tí.

Tell Us

We have had names for you:

The Thunderer, the Almighty

Hunter, Lord of the snowflake

and the sabre-toothed tiger.

One name we have held back

unable to reconcile it

with the mosquito, the tidal wave,

the black hole into which

time will fall. You have answered

us with the image of yourself

on a hewn tree, suffering

injustice, pardoning it;

pointing as though in either

direction; horrifying us

with the possibility of dislocation.

Ah, love, with your arms out

wide, tell us how much more

they must still be stretched

to embrace a universe drawing

away from us at the speed of light.

R.S.THOMAS, from: The SPCK Book of Christian Prayer, London, 1995

The Apostles

Jesus Christ told his apostles to bring the Good News revealed by God in him to all people. They handed on through “their preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they established, what they themselves had received–whether from the lips of Christ, from his way of life and his works, or whether they had learned it at the promptings of the Holy Spirit.”  (Catechism of the Catholic Faith 76)

The apostles and others associated with them, “under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit committed the message of salvation to writing.” (Catechism 76)

We acknowledge the apostles’ role in bringing the Good News when we read the gospels and recite the Apostles’ Creed. We remember them in our liturgy, and each month we celebrate one of the apostles in our calendar of feasts.  July 3rd, we honor the Apostle Thomas.

Thomas reminds us that the witnesses chosen by Jesus were both weak and strong. Everyone in the Upper Room the night of Jesus’ resurrection believed that he had risen. The absent Thomas doesn’t.  “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.”

Only when Jesus patiently appears to him a week later and has him touch the wounds in his hands and his side, does he believe. “My Lord and my God.”

Is Thomas unique in his weakness of faith? Were the others chosen by Jesus as foundations of his church unlike him? From the slight information the gospels provide, all the other apostles are both weak and strong–Peter, their leader, is a prime example.

Did the Holy Spirit change the apostles completely at Pentecost? We may think they were, but I don’t think they were so completely transformed as we like to believe. The story in St. Luke’s gospel of the two disciples on the way to Emmaus may better describe the post-resurrection church and its leaders.

Hardly a triumphalist church and hardly perfect leaders. Their strength and their guide was the patient Jesus. The Risen Jesus was with them then and he is with us now.