Second Sunday of Easter 24 April 2022

Homily 2nd Sunday of Easter 2022

Today’s Gospel abounds with great sermon themes: forgiveness, the sacrament of penance, the locked doors, he scars, doubting Thomas and so much more.

Each of the Gospel readings during the Easter season highlights an important feature of our Easter faith. Here the teaching o this Gospel is that our contact with the Risen Lord is through faith.

It is difficult not to be intrigued by the Gospel figure of Thomas. Thomas had spent as much time in the company of Christ as had the others. He too had heard the prophecies, the promises. If he was confused as to just what those promises meant, that was a confusion he certainly shared with all the others. It was a confused and frightened group that gathered in the upper room those first few days after Easter. Certainly too, Thomas’ hope, his desire to believe, was as strong as was any of the others. When he is finally confronted with the reality of the Risen Christ, his confession of faith is immediate and complete: “My Lord and my God.” Interestingly enough, Christ accepts that confession equally immediately. He doesn’t really rebuke Thomas for his lack of faith.

But still, something in Thomas’ response was not as it should be, would have to be from then on, if Christ’s design was to be played out. If Christ does not rebuke Thomas’ faith, he does begin at least to reshape it, redirect it. He does so in that enigmatic sort of ninth Beatitude: “Blessed are those who have not seen but have believed.” I think we would be oversimplifying if we were to take that as Christ sort of singling Thomas out for Criticism because of his insistence on a flesh-and-blood experience of the Risen Christ.

I suspect that the redirection, the reshaping that Christ gives to Thomas’ faith, the criticism, if that is the right word, is not directed to Thomas’ need for a flesh-and-blood experience as the springboard of faith but in rather directed to the fact that. Long before he ever touched the marks of the nails, Thomas had had such a flesh-and-blood experience of the Risen Christ and had failed o recognise it.

He had had it when he came back to the others after Christ’s first appearance to them, and he found them changed. Less fearful, less uncertain. When Thomas found that crowd of people had become a gathering of believers, a community reshaped by an experience of the resurrection, filled with the joy of it, he was being offered a very human testimony indeed, very much a flesh-and-blood witness to the truth of the resurrection.

But Thomas missed that. For whatever his own reasons, he insisted on himself setting the terms for the testimony that he would accept, and in doing so, the testimony that was offered, the experience that was to have been his, passed him by. Thomas was unwilling to put his trust in the community of believers, and in that, he very nearly missed the reality of the Risen Christ.

Thomas’ inadequacy was not that he doubted Christ. Rather, it was that he doubted Christ’s people, their ability to truly represent him. May we be stronger than was Thomas, surer in our acceptance of the gracefulness of the community of believers.

Fr Andrew