Each year the readings of Easter are filled with amazement, wonder, energy, mystery, challenge…this Sunday is no exception. Each reading speaks not only of historical realities, but also speaks directly to each of us and our times.
Acts 4 speaks of the meaning of community. “The community of believers was of one heart and mind…” Surely, when we gather for liturgy during the Holy Days and each Sunday, we experience being a community of believers who are “of one heart and mind” – one body in Christ. Acts also reminds us that nobody claimed that anyone’s possessions belonged to them personally, but that everything was seen as belonging to the community, as being held in common. This reminds me of Pope Francis’ referring to “our common home” in Laudato Si. Can the words we hear in Acts today, remind us in 2018 that we hold this planet in common? How do these words challenge us concerning our daily living in terms of ecology, greenhouse gases, pollution, water conservation, recycling, etc.? Can these words not also invite us to enjoy the beauty of our common home while we care for it and pass it on to future generations?
The words “they had everything in common” also pose practical challenges. As Americans in 2018, there are looming questions: Is our common home “ours” or a gift of God, a land to be shared with others who are fleeing their land in search of a home? Does our land belong to one segment of our society or to all of us? More personally, as we in the North change seasons (soon hopefully), as I go through my closet, what is there that I can see as part of the pos-sessions to be shared because they are given for the common good. for the community?
Today John’s gospel reminds us that the first evening (Easter in our terms), the disciples are huddled up, locked in, petrified that the Jews would be coming for them – and grieving the loss of the One in whom they had placed all their hopes. We can feel the intensity of those emotions, even 2000 years later. Jesus stands in their midst and says, “PEACE.” They must be petrified and he knows it but, when he shows them his wounds, they know it is truly the one they love. He again says, “PEACE” and we feel the earlier “uptight” emotions evaporate.
Of course, Thomas is a focus in this Sunday’s gospel. Poor Thomas has been dubbed “doubting” over the centuries. First of all, what’s wrong with doubting? When encountering mystery, there are always moments of doubt: Does God really love me so generously? I have sinned, how could I be worthy? Who is God? Is God real? Thomas is actually a person of great faith. We don’t know where Thomas has been for this last week. After Calvary, perhaps he just went away, devastated, like the disciples on the road to Emmaüs. Perhaps he just ran. Most likely, his heart was broken and afraid…but he came back - to be with the community. Basically, he is in the same space the others were a week earlier. Thomas says he wouldn’t believe them unless he touched the wounds. Earlier Jesus had known that showing his wounds would help the others believe. This week, again, Jesus says, “PEACE” and, with love, invites Thomas to do exactly what Thomas had said would be necessary to believe. Thomas simply exclaims, “My Lord and my God.” He has met the Risen Jesus and any doubt or need to touch his wounds falls away. Thomas, truly a man of faith, is a model of discipleship for us.
May the Risen One be present to us in new ways in the weeks ahead. May he be our PEACE.
-Sister Marian Baumler
Sisters of St. Mary of Namur . 241 Lafayette Avenue . Buffalo, New York 14213 . (716) 884-8221