GOSPEL READING / John 20:19-31
The Gospel portrays two appearances of the Risen Lord Jesus. First, the Resurrected Christ appears to the disciples on Easter evening and, then, a week later. He does not wield vengeance for their shameful fleeing and lack of faith but instead extends to each and every one of them perfect peace. All the world’s hatred raged against Him on the Cross but divine love proves to wield ultimate strength in His Resurrection.
The Gospel of John does not focus so much on what actually happened to Jesus after His Resurrection. Rather the stories highlight how people come to faith through their meeting the Risen Lord Jesus.
Although the disciples are huddled in fear behind locked doors, Jesus appears to them (v. 19). Instead of admonishing them for their lack of faith, Jesus extends His peace. Their fear gives way to joy! So, too, do the disciples receive great responsibilities to continue Jesus’ mission (v. 21).
Thomas was absent from the group. When told enthusiastically by the other disciples that they had seen the Risen Lord Jesus, Thomas does not refuse to believe, but stubbornly insists that Jesus must fulfill all his expectations. For Thomas, conditions first will have to be met in order for him to believe.
The following Sunday the disciples are together again and this time Thomas is present. Jesus appears and instead of admonishing Thomas for his stubborn incredulity, Jesus invites Thomas to touch the bodily wounds. Immediately Thomas understands that God never is to be told how things must be.
The Gospel story challenges us to recognize our own level of faith.
- How often do we recognize the Resurrected Christ in our ordinary experience?
- How often to do we insist God behaves in ways that seem to suit us best?
Genuine followers of the Risen Lord Jesus – intentional disciples – understand everything as a blessed opportunity for strengthening their belief in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as their Lord, Savior and Messiah (v. 31).