Thoughts on the Readings for the 2nd Sunday of Easter Divine Mercy Sunday

For this Sunday’s readings, click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. 
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/041215.cfm 

I have always felt a great deal of sympathy for poor Thomas.   One quick and ill-conceived comment and he is forever labeled “doubting Thomas.”   Perhaps even worse, because we read this story every year on the Sunday after Easter there is little chance that he will ever live down this appellation.   

In defense of Thomas, I would like to suggest that he is not so much a doubter as he is a realist. Thomas had accepted the hard and ugly fact of Jesus’ death, and he had begun to move ahead.   (I say this because our Gospel today reminds us that he was the only one who was not cowering in fear behind locked doors.)  Also, his statement:  “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” --- while crude --- is merely asking for a proof similar to what the other disciples had already seen and experienced.  

When we think of Thomas, it is important to remember that we have grown up with a belief in Jesus’ resurrection.  If we can put ourselves in his shoes, however, we can perhaps begin to grasp what an unprecedented, unexpected, astonishing, miracle Jesus’ resurrection was.  From this perspective, I wonder if most of us were in Thomas’ shoes wouldn’t ask for a bit more “proof” before believing wholeheartedly in Jesus’ resurrection.  

Our first reading for this Sunday moves us quickly from the resurrection to the life of the early Christian community.  It begins with the unequivocal statement:  “The community of believers was of one heart and mind……………...” 

Our second reading for this Sunday is taken from the first letter of St. John.  (Our second readings throughout the Easter season will be taken from this letter.)  In the section we read this weekend, John reminds us that we show our love for God and the children of God, not just by knowing, but by keeping the commandments of God.  

Questions for Discussion/Reflection

  1. Alfred Tennyson once said:  “There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds.”  Do you agree or disagree?
  2. What would you say to someone who had difficulty believing in the resurrection?  
  3. What can we do today to make the community of believers of one mind and heart?   
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Comments

1. Agree. A creed can be recited by rote while one's mind is actively engaged elsewhere. Doubt, on the other hand, can feel almost visceral, like gasping for air or grabbing a branch to free oneself from danger. Tennyson seems to affirm this challenge in his next stanzas:
He fought his doubts and gather'd strength,
He would not make his judgment blind,
He faced the spectres of the mind
And laid them: thus he came at length

To find a stronger faith his own;
And Power was with him in the night,
Which makes the darkness and the light,
And dwells not in the light alone.."
(In Memoriam A.H.H., XCVI)

Over the years I've had many doubts about Jesus, God and the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Today I am a firm believer in all three. I came to my convictions because of
doubt which caused me to search for the truth. I think blindly believing a creed is not real belief... but merely acceptance of what you've been told. I don't think anyone makes a true decision for Christ without doubt.

I think one of the problems in our church today is a sort of "Relativism"...the idea that one thing can be true for you but not for me. Some of us believe in the real presence others don't; it's the same with abortion, the ideas of hell and purgatory, marriage and sexuality, and who knows what else. Even priests don't agree on some of this stuff. I think that continuing religious education for adults is seriously needed for all Catholics. Most of us stopped learning anything new about our faith at about age 16; an age that is far from mature. Perhaps if we had more adult education around the basics and focused on the theology behind those basics we could grow closer to being of one mind and one heart.

But, what do I know?

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