Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16
Many signs and wonders were done among the people at the hands of the apostles. They were all together in Solomon’s portico. None of the others dared to join them, but the people esteemed them. Yet more than ever, believers in the Lord, great numbers of men and women, were added to them. Thus they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and mats so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them. A large number of people from the towns in the vicinity of Jerusalem also gathered, bringing the sick and those disturbed by unclean spirits, and they were all cured.
Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19
I, John, your brother, who share with you the distress, the kingdom, and the endurance we have in Jesus, found myself on the island called Patmos because I proclaimed God’s word and gave testimony to Jesus. I was caught up in spirit on the Lord’s day and heard behind me a voice as loud as a trumpet, which said, “Write on a scroll what you see.” Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me, and when I turned, I saw seven gold lampstands and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, wearing an ankle-length robe, with a gold sash around his chest. When I caught sight of him, I fell down at his feet as though dead. He touched me with his right hand and said, “Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever. I hold the keys to death and the netherworld. Write down, therefore, what you have seen, and what is happening, and what will happen afterwards.”
Gospel Cycle Cycle C
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.
What happens to us when we really believe? Are our lives changed? We see in the Acts of the Apostles today that the lives of some of the followers of Jesus were changed radically when they came to believe. Others still stayed in the background, not being as confident in their belief.
Look at Saint Thomas in the Gospel today. He should have believed, but did not believe. Only when he had a personal encounter with the risen Lord did he actually come to believe and give up his doubting.
Where are you and where am I in our belief? This is a question we need to ask ourselves. Are we like the believers in the Acts of the Apostles and unable to control ourselves so that we must proclaim our faith in Christ? Probably not, but perhaps some here do have that kind of faith.
Are we like Thomas in the Gospel, wanting to believe but still sort of convinced that real believing is a bit of foolishness? We might have some tendencies that way, but most of us are here today because we do believe but we want to believe even more profoundly. We want to hear God’s voice: “do not be afraid, I am with you.”
So much of our faith, though, is accepting the testimonies of those who have gone before us or those who we have met and whom we really trust. It is clear in the Gospel that Jesus does claim to be God. It is clear in the Gospel that most of His followers doubted Him at one time or another. It is clear that after the Resurrection, some began to believe. It is clear that after the Resurrection Jesus actually appeared to some of His followers and ate and drank with them.
So that is the evidence of the Gospels and New Testament. It is up to us whether we want to believe that those testimonies are true. For myself, I believe, and this belief comes only after years of doubt and years of questioning and years of struggle with faith. But I can stand before you and say with my whole heart: “I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He lived for me, died for me and rose for me.” Alleluia.
May all of you have this same gift of faith and may we encourage others to believe. The only way to encourage belief is to allow that belief to transform my life in such a way that it is clear that God is t work. Alleluia. May our lives reflect the love and compassion of our God. Alleluia.