Reflection by Aidan Troy
Saint Thomas is my type of person. He was nothing if not a straight-talker. Because he loved Jesus and had given his life to follow Him, his sense of loss when Jesus died on the Cross was deep and hurt greatly. Being hurt, leaves a wound and puts Thomas in a defensive position. He doesn’t want to be hurt again. Neither would I.
He sets down his conditions – he must have the evidence of his own eyes. Interestingly, it is the wounds of Jesus that will convince him that He is really the same Jesus who is now alive. When Jesus takes the hand of Thomas to guide it to His wounded side, he pulls back and utters a prayer that I love – “My Lord and my God.” What great faith!
When Jesus rose from the dead, I wonder what reaction He expected? Mary of Magdala thought He was the gardener. Peter and the other Apostles were hiding in an attic for fear that they too would be killed. Two of the disciples had given up on Jerusalem and took the road back to Emmaus. They were sure that the dream was over. But it wasn’t.
To Mary of Magdala, it takes just her name to be spoken by Jesus and at once, she recognises Him. At Emmaus urged to stay with them, Jesus is recognised in the braking of the bread. They are so overcome with joy that they head straight back to Jerusalem to resume living the ‘dream’. Jesus does not need a key or a ladder to reach Peter and the others in the attic. He stood among them and greeted them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and He said to them again, ‘Peace by with you.’
There was more to follow. This was not a reunion about the past alone; ‘as the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’ There follows the gift of the Holy Spirit as Jesus breathes on them. The message of forgiveness is always on the lips of Jesus. Not only have we the Sacrament of forgiveness, but the call to forgive each other and to confer peace on others and on ourselves. Without forgiveness in all its forms there cannot be peace.
On the eve of Holy Week, the parish retreat included a Penance Service with individual confessions. Tuesday of Holy Week had another Penance Service. Both of these brought people to the foot of the Cross to be healed of their sins by the wounds of Christ.
It is a source of great peace when I realise that each of us is loved even to the point of death by God. God did not spare His own son but gave him up for us all. The Father never would hurt his Son. Sin and hatred do. That is why there is such an insistence on forgiveness and being reconciled. It is the divine in us that leads us to do something that is beyond what we may want to do. It is the gift of God.
Now it is for us to carry forward the wonder and the power of the Resurrection. Like Thomas, doubt is part of faith for us humans. It is interesting that Thomas was absent when Jesus revealed Himself to the community. Why we do not know.
Your faith and goodness support me in my faith. We need each other. It is in being a truly loving, believing and welcoming community that will attract people to the Risen Jesus. My faith was strengthened by your presence in Holy Week and by our new members joining us at the Easter Vigil.
Bless you, them, families and friends.