Doubt can lead us to faith. John 20:19—31
This weekend we celebrate the second Sunday of Easter; also known as ‘Divine Mercy Sunday’. St Pope John Paul II stated that the divine mercy is “the Easter gift that the Church receives from the risen Christ and offers to humanity”.
In the picture of the Divine Mercy, two rays of light emanate from Jesus’ heart, one red and the other white. These colours symbolise the blood and water that ﬂowed from the heart of Jesus while on the Cross. In today’s gospel we reflect on Thomas, whose doubt was redeemed by faith because of Jesus’ mercy.
On the evening of Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples were gathered in a closed room. In the gospel, we read that the disciples were in fear of the Jews. Maybe they were afraid of suffering a similar fate like Jesus because of their close association with Him. Their future was now undetermined as their hope for a better life died with Jesus.
Many of us can relate to living in fear because of the criminal elements in our country. As a result, our houses are equipped
with the latest technology to protect and to keep us safe.
Although the news of the resurrection was joyful, it compounded the disciples’ fear. They were confused and did not know what to believe. Perhaps, they wanted to avoid Jesus altogether rather than face Him.
Peter denied Him three times and the rest of the disciples with the exception of John deserted Him. The disciples, therefore, failed Jesus miserably. How do we react when we fail (sin) Jesus? Do we hide in fear or seek His forgiveness?
Suddenly, Jesus appeared in the closed room and commissioned the disciples to spread peace and forgiveness throughout the world. However, Thomas was missing.
The news of Jesus’ resurrection did not resonate with him; he could not be easily persuaded. Thomas wanted tangible proof of Jesus’ existence to believe. How many of us are just like him? Do you require things in black and white before you can believe?
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of our faith (1324). How many of us receive Communion every week and do not believe that the Eucharist is the real presence of Jesus, body, soul and divinity?
A week later, Jesus appeared a second time and Thomas was present. Jesus instructed Thomas to place his fingers
through the holes the nails made in His hands and feet.
At that moment, Jesus’ mercy ﬂowed to Thomas’ heart and healed the wounds of his unbelief. Without hesitation, Thomas made a profession of faith in his exclamation: “My Lord and my God”. These famous ﬁve words are used by millions at Mass when the host and chalice are elevated during consecration.
Like Thomas, we need to allow our doubts to lead us to faith. Faith is something that cannot be explained with logic. St Thomas Aquinas explains it best, “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”
The gospel ends with Jesus giving His ﬁnal beatitude for people like you and me, “Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.” Unlike Thomas, we have to believe with faith and not by sight.
In this gospel, Thomas’ doubt reminds us of God’s love which was expressed through Jesus’ death and resurrection; the epitome of sacriﬁcial love. Similarly, we are called to bear the wounds of the cross by being merciful to others. Mercy transforms our thinking and allows us to view life through a different lens. When we choose to display forgiveness, tolerance and compassion instead of hate we imitate God’s mercy.
On the other hand, if we choose to be apathetic, then, we are not authentic witnesses of the resurrection. According to Pope Francis, if we are not “witness[es] to mercy, life becomes fruitless and sterile, as if sequestered in a barren desert” (10,
Miserz’cordiae Vultus). We are called not to just receive divine mercy but to live it.
Lord, I believe, help my unbelief! Forgive us when we doubt and increase our faith. Lord Jesus, we trust in You! Amen
The Gospel Meditations for April were by Dr René J erome Wihby, an assistant lecturer at the School of Education, The University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus and attends St Paul’s RC, Couva.