Second Sunday of Easter | Year B
In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to 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 be with you.
‘As the Father sent me,
so I am sending you.’
After saying this he breathed on them and said:
‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’
Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said , ‘We have seen the Lord,’ he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you,’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him:
‘You believe because you can see me.
Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’
There were many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, but they are not recorded in this book. These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life through his name.
When the excited disciples told Thomas “We have seen the Lord!” his initial response was to reject the possibility that they had seen Jesus. But the fact that all the other disciples were involved, and all saying the same thing, must have left him bewildered. If what they were saying was true, why had Jesus chosen not to include him?
The following eight days would have been tough for Thomas. He had not shared in the encounter with Jesus and he must have felt envious of the others when he saw how it had affected them. Amid all his interior confusion he could have chosen to walk away, overwhelmed with a sense that somehow he did not matter to Jesus. He may even have had a strong sense of rejection.
Thomas stayed with the disciples despite his doubts and difficulties. He was there when Jesus came looking for him, and his encounter with Jesus was very personal. Perhaps Thomas vaguely remembered Jesus talking about ninety-nine sheep and the shepherd looking for the one which wasn’t with the others. Thomas experienced the mercy of Jesus in the encounter, and it would have also had an effect on the other disciples.
If we miss out on something it is easy to let feelings of rejection or inferiority become overwhelming. Often there is a misunderstanding or combination of circumstances beyond anyone’s control behind what happened, rather than a deliberate act of rejection. Finding out why things happened as they did should be a first step, as a relationship may depend upon it.
Sometimes we may find ourselves in the eight days of Thomas, as we struggle with a sense that somehow we do not matter to Jesus (or to perhaps to others). Jesus will return as he did for Thomas.
Mary understood the nature of God when she proclaimed in the Magnificat “His mercy is from age to age…”.