Reflection: Second Sunday of Easter

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

Mass is conducted in a mix of Cantonese and Mandarin

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

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Although the story of Doubting Thomas is very well known, there are some other things in the text that we should not ignore if we are to gain a better understanding of this Apostle who refused to believe that Jesus has risen because he had no direct contact or experience of the risen Christ.

We are told that not long after Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus wanted to meet his disciples again.  Even though the doors were closed, Jesus came and stood among them.  The first thing that Jesus did when he returned back to life was to visit his disciples and followers.  Jesus shared his peace with them, and he also showed them the signs of his passion and death i.e. his hands and his side.  It is after Jesus did all this that, we are told, the disciples were filled with joy in seeing him!

Then, when Jesus saw that they recognized him, he gave them a mission to accomplish.  He sent them to continue the work that he had begun.  He was sent by the Father in heaven and he, in turn, is now sending them to do what he himself had started … to show that God is amongst his people.  For this reason Jesus also gave them the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit that accompanied him throughout his whole life when he was sent by the Father.

Alas, Thomas was not with the others when all this took place.  The gospel writer specified that Thomas was one of the twelve and was therefore someone who was with Jesus during his public life.  Yet when Thomas was told about Jesus’ appearance by the others, Thomas was quite adamant that unless he himself has a direct experience of the risen Christ … then he will “refuse” to believe.  Thus, eight days later Jesus reappears to his disciples again, and even though the doors were closed, Jesus came in, stood among them and gave them his peace.  But this time Thomas is present and Jesus calls Thomas to show him the signs of his passion and death … and upon this interaction with the risen Christ, Thomas recognizes not only Jesus, but he also recognizes God in him which he expresses in his response “My Lord and My God”.  Jesus rebukes Thomas for his lack of faith when he did not see and Jesus declares blessed those who believe without seeing.

Quite often we behave very similarly to Thomas.  We know Jesus through what we have heard about him and yet like Thomas we ‘refuse’ to believe (especially if we’ve not had a direct experience of Jesus).  Often Jesus shows us his presence, but instead we choose to ignore Jesus and therefore continue to refuse to believe.

“Lord, you have come back to life so that you can be with us. Give us the faith that we need to be able to see you and recognize you in whatever you do for us in our life.  Give us the gift of faith to announce your presence amongst us.  Thank you Lord!”

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo    http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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