Gospel Reflection Apr 16 – Sr. Teresa
Sunday, April 16
Second Sunday of Easter
John 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.
Today is the first Sunday after Easter. It is also Divine Mercy Sunday, and the Gospel retells the story of Thomas. When you read the Gospel carefully you see the interaction between Jesus and Thomas. Jesus does NOT admonish Thomas for doubting. Jesus patiently waits for Thomas to come to faith. Thomas eventually “sees” and “believes.” Then Thomas lets himself be enveloped in the divine mercy and love of Jesus. His eyes and his heart were open to the endless gentleness and merciful understanding that flows from Jesus. It gives me great hope knowing that Jesus will patiently wait for me, when my faith is sluggish and doubtful or times when I am slow to believe. “I believe, help my unbelief.” Then Jesus waits for me, always ready to shower and envelop me with endless mercy and forgiveness.
By now the jellybeans are gone, Easter baskets put away and all that Easter candy has lost some of its appeal. So, now what? What do we do now that the Resurrection is over? “What do we do now?” It is a question those early followers asked after Jesus died. They had that question as he laid in the tomb. They had that question after the Resurrection. Jesus is here but not really here. He is certainly not here like he was before. They will ask “What are we to do?” after the Ascension and again, after Pentecost. So, the question reverberated in them and continues to reverberate down through the centuries, “WHAT ARE WE TO DO?”
Again, Easter is over, so now what are we to do? Way too often we are almost so laser-focused on the death and Resurrection of Jesus (sin and redemption) that we forget the years before. We lose our focus. Those are the years when Jesus taught us how to live and how to be with each other. He spent time showing us how to be and become a merciful, forgiving, compassionate and brave person. The message and the response to the question, “What are we to do?” is not found in the death and Resurrection of Jesus but in the life of Jesus as he lived among us.
Sometimes, we focus so much on the divinity of Jesus that we forget the humanity of Jesus. We so focus on the Risen Lord that we forget the human Lord that walked among us. I wonder if that is why The Chosen has captured the interest of millions of people all over the world. In that series we see Jesus as he walked this earth. We hear and see him in his humanity. We see him teaching his followers to do the same. We come to know the person of Jesus. We witness the endless gentleness and merciful understanding that flows from Jesus. We see it in his gestures. We hear it in his words. We experience it in his presence.
We also see that his early followers, his “students” as he calls them, learned slowly and fumbled many times. They struggled about what it meant to be his followers. The series shows that they struggled and doubted and missed the point over and over again. They disagreed with each other about what it was Jesus was teaching. Sometimes they walked away and slowly returned to him. Some walked away and just could not turn back. Don’t we do all these things at times? However, it is not about me and not about you. It is about Jesus. Watch him and learn. Patiently Jesus would urge them to pay attention and watch him so they would learn to be people who show love, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, and understanding to others. He slowly changed and shaped their hearts. That is how he formed his followers. That is what he continually does to us and for us. He is patient and full of mercy always ready to welcome us back. I don’t pray “Alleluia! He has risen” nearly as often as I pray, “Open my eyes, my ears and my heart, O lord. Teach me to see, to hear and to love like you.”
It is not about me and not about you. It is about Jesus and what he can do in me and in you so that through his power in us we will do the same to others.
What are we to do? We do what Jesus did!
-Sister Teresa Tuite, OP