Acts of the Apostles 2:42-47
They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
1 Peter 1:3-9
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time. In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Gospel Cycle Cycle A
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
We can hear the enthusiasm of the early followers of Jesus in these readings today. The Acts of the Apostles in particular is filled with enthusiasm and joy and reflects at least one experience in the early Church. Everything seemed to be so good and to work so well together. But already in the Acts of the Apostles, the author starts to describe some of the early followers as withdrawing from the common understanding of the community.
Following Jesus has all the human dimensions of any movement. People get enthused and enter into the movement and then they get discouraged or scandalized by others and they withdraw. Sometimes the withdrawal takes the form of accusing the others of not being as fervent as they should be, sometimes it means starting a new church assembly, sometimes it means going away totally disillusioned and angry—and there are lots of other possibilities as well.
The First Letter of Peter also reminds us that we may have to suffer a bit in our following of the Lord Jesus.
The Gospel of John recounts to us the experience of Thomas, who is such a strong model for many of us present-day believers. We want to see, to touch, to feel. We want verifiable experience about this Jesus whom we follow. And Jesus responds to the request of Thomas and then embarrasses him.
We are celebrating the Octave of Easter today. The daily readings for Holy Mass have given us all kinds of Gospels and other readings during this previous week, meant to help us understand the resurrection of Jesus and what it means to follow Him.
We Christians of today seem to be the same type of humans as those earlier followers. We have enthusiasts who are totally committed to the Lord and whose energy wants to draw others to Him as well. We have other committed Christians who follow Christ but who want to remain in the background. We have people who belong to the Church but who don’t want to give a penny to help the Church. We have others who promise to help and then don’t carry through. We find in the Scriptures so many types of people because that is a true human community. And we find plenty of us who are like Thomas the Apostle in lots of ways.
The readings invite us to reflect more deeply about what it means to follow Jesus as our Lord. We should never be surprised by others with their faithfulness nor their lack of faithfulness. We should be surprised by our own failures. Instead, we are invited to keep our eyes on Christ with a realistic understanding of others and of ourselves. We can make a lasting commitment to follow Him and this will help us continue on the way when we meet the failures and brokenness of others or that same failure and brokenness in ourselves. Blessed are those who believe!