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Today we celebrate the Second Sunday of Easter, which is also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. Although our first and second readings for this Sunday follow our three year cycle of readings, the Gospel for this Sunday is always Jn. 20: 19-31. It is the story of Thomas.
I have always felt a great deal of sympathy for poor Thomas. He didn’t believe the other disciples when they told him that Jesus had been raised from the dead and had appeared to them. As a result, forever after he was known as “doubting Thomas.” Now I don’t know that I can completely restore Thomas’ credibility, but I’d like to offer two thoughts in his defense. First, it seems to me that the other disciples couldn’t have been very effective witnesses if they couldn’t convince Thomas that they had encountered the risen Lord. Certainly the idea of someone rising from the dead was an unprecedented phenomenon, but the disciples couldn’t have been very persuasive if they couldn’t convince Thomas --- a man who had been in their company for three years --- that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Second, I don’t know that doubt is such a bad thing. Doubt and faith are two sides of the same coin. You can’t have doubt if you don’t have (at least some) faith. In fact, out of Thomas’ doubt came the first statement of Easter faith: “My Lord and my God.”
Our first reading today is taken from the Acts of the Apostles. It recounts the beginnings of the apostles’ ministry, which was a continuation of Jesus’ mission and ministry. In this reading we are told “Yet more than ever, believers in the Lord, great numbers of men and women were added to them.”
Our second reading today is taken from the Book of Revelation. We will be reading from this book for the next five weeks. It is important to remember that the Book of Revelation is “apocalyptic” literature. It is not meant to be taken literally. Rather, apocalyptic literature is filled with vivid imagery and symbolic language. It was written during a time of trial or distress and it was meant to encourage and offer hope in the face of trials and suffering. It also reminded people to remain firm in their faith.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. Do you think doubt is a bad thing?
2. Have you ever tried to convince someone of something only to have them doubt you? Did they ever come to believe you?
3. If you encountered someone who read the Book of Revelation literally, what would you say to them?