Gospel Reflection April 7 – Kim VanHuffel

Sunday, April 7

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.

Gospel Reflection:

When Bishop Campbell used to do the Rite of Election for our RCIA/OCIA unbaptized, he would close with a powerful set of questions. He would ask the catechumen to stand if they had come to believe in Jesus through something they had read. A few people would stand. Then he would ask who came to believe through something they saw (TV or a movie). A few people would stand. Then he would ask who had come to believe in Jesus because of the witness of someone they had met. Almost the entire assembly at St. Paul’s Church in Westerville would stand. It was a moving representation of the power of witness and the proclamation of the Gospel.

The Gospel of John that we read from this weekend is known as the gospel of belief. John uses a version of the verb “believe” 98 times in his gospel, which is more than 1/3 of the times the word is used in the entire Bible. For John, belief in Jesus is the key that unlocks salvation. Jesus has been sent by the Father (he tells us this 41 times in his gospel) and when he returns to the Father, his disciples will continue his ministry, helping more and more people to also believe, and therefore to gain salvation.

We tend to be hard on Thomas, labeling him “Doubting Thomas” because he had to see to believe. Jesus tells him “do not be unbelieving, but believe.” However in reality, all of the disciples saw and believed in that upper room. On the heals of his interaction with Thomas, Jesus says “Blessed are those who have NOT seen and have believed.”

That’s all of us! We are all those people that Bishop Campbell asked if we came to belief in Jesus through someone else. It might have been our parents, or a teacher or friend. But we did not come to faith by seeing. We came to believe in Jesus through the proclaimed gospel of Jesus’ witnesses. We are blessed today as we hear this gospel reading and believe. We are blessed by hearing the witness of all the faithful who have gone before us and have testified to their belief.

And, in his commissioning in this reading, Jesus tells his disciples (and us), to have peace, to not be afraid, to remember that we have received the Holy Spirit, and “as the Father has sent me, so I send you.” We are all called to share the Easter message, and the joy it brings, with others today, and to bring more people to belief in Jesus.

Happy Easter to you all and congratulations to the 33 people who joined our Church this year through the RCIA/OCIA process!

Kim VanHuffel

Pastoral Associate