Acts of the Apostles 4:32-35
The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.
1 John 5:1-6
Beloved: Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God, and everyone who loves the Father loves also the one begotten by him. In this way we know that we love the children of God when we love God and obey his commandments. For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith. Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood. The Spirit is the one that testifies, and the Spirit is truth.
Gospel Cycle Cycle B
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.
This Sunday is always about Thomas the Apostle and about his doubts. Today we can look at doubting Thomas through the second reading, from the First Letter of Saint John.
Our first challenge is to believe that Jesus is the Christ. This is exactly the challenge of Thomas, who doubted. Even though he knew Jesus when Jesus was alive, even though he followed Jesus as his Master and accepted Jesus in all things, when Jesus died, Thomas doubted that Jesus could be the Christ, the one anointed by God to bring salvation to the chosen people.
Thomas is given a chance to believe again. He is able to touch Jesus and to know that He is alive. For us today, that same opportunity is present, but in a different way. We touch Jesus whenever we meet the poor and the oppressed and are able to find the divine presence in them. We touch Jesus whenever we are in conflict with anyone else and can find a way to see the divine presence in them.
But so often it is just in those situations that we don’t even want to think of the divine presence, we don’t want to encounter the Lord. We want to be out of the situation and not have to deal with such situations.
Loving God is obeying God’s commands. This is what the First Letter of John is telling us. Something within us often rebels at obeying anyone else’s commands. We want to be free and able to do just what we want to do. Obedience does not sound good to us and certainly does not seem to lead to any freedom at all.
Over and over our Christian spiritual tradition will tell us: if you want to be free, then follow the Lord. If you want to be free, then be virtuous. If you want to be free, then turn away from evil and do good. If you want to be free, be faithful to the teachings of the Church. If you want to be free, then give your life over completely to living the Gospels.
Yet even though we want freedom, we are not sure we want that kind of freedom. Any other kind of freedom seems good as long as it lets us do what we want to do. Freedom is about becoming who we are, not about doing what we want to do. Thomas was free to doubt, but his doubting was only for the sake of believing more profoundly. He wanted to believe in Jesus! What do you want? What do I want? Do I want to live the fullness of life? Then I must believe and that belief completely in my daily life. God can and will help me.
Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.