Scripture Readings: Acts of the Apostles 2:42-47; First Letter of Saint Peter 1:3-9; Gospel According to Saint John 20:19-31
We are still celebrating the Passover of Christ, his Resurrection from the dead, and today the Gospel shows us Christ in the midst of his disciples, not bound by time or space, but simply appearing in their midst.
Thomas the Apostle, though, is not present at this appearance of Jesus, and asks for proofs of the truth of the Lord’s Resurrection. He needs to see and touch the wounds of the Crucified Lord, who is now proclaimed as Risen and seen by various people.
It is not easy to accept the Resurrection and it is difficult to grasp how it all came to be. We can probably relate to the “doubt” of Thomas, desiring concrete of the Resurrection, but that can reduce our faith to the senses, to what can be seen and what can be touched.
We must recall, though, that the deepest and most important aspect of our faith is the spiritual, which like love and faith, goes far beyond physical proof. Love does not seek proofs, but simply is, though it is demonstrated by our deeds. One gives and one receives love. Love is something everyone believes in and something everyone hopes for.
In the same way, our faith, which hopefully grows as time goes on, is something we always desire more of. If our faith were something totally grasped and understood, it would be too small. God in his mysteries is always inexhaustible, never fully understood or completely explained, by his very nature of being God. As such, we “live by faith,” as Saint Paul expressed it.
Today in the Gospel Jesus praises those who believe without seeing. We must believe in the same way, that Christ for love of us went to the cross, handed over his life entirely, even to the last drop of his blood. Christ’s love did not stop there, but led to the Resurrection from the dead. God the Father’s work is complete now in the Resurrection Christ.
In the book of the Song of Songs in the Old Testament we find a beautiful expression about love. There we read: “No one can extinguish love, because love is stronger than death.” And in the cross of Christ we have the proof, because love triumphs over death by the power of the Resurrection.
The new life of the Risen Christ is not something to be put off until the next life, but meant to be lived here and now, especially in the Eucharist, the Mass. Here Christ is offering us his Body and Blood, soul and divinity, which are the fountain of life eternal. Risen life is being offered to us at every Mass, in Holy Communion.
It is a great act of faith to believe this, to accept and receive the Risen Christ in a tiny piece of bread and in some drops of wine. I don’t see Christ, but I see bread and wine, yet therein lies the mystery: Christ is present in the simple form of bread and wine. I must go beyond the senses, through faith, which brings me to say and believe that it is Christ whom I receive, with whom I am in communion.
Blessed Sunday and week ahead!
Abbot Christian Leisy, OSB