Appearance to the disciples

Published April 7, 2018, 10:00 PM

by Mario Casayuran and Vanne Elaine Terrazola

John 20:19-31REFLECTION

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. 31But 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.

 

REFLECTION

DOUBTING THOMAS, The appearance of the risen Christ to the disciples in Jerusalem is dominated by the figure of Thomas. The words that Jesus says to Thomas are so important for future believers that the narrative has become the fixed Gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter.

Thomas appears in three scenes in John. He is first mentioned in connection with the story of Lazarus, when the disciples cannot believe that Jesus wants to return to Judea where people are seeking to put him to death. When Jesus insists, Thomas says, “Let us also go to die with him” (Jn 11:16). At the Last Supper, Jesus tells his disciples about his imminent departure to the Father and trusts that they know the way, but Thomas interjects, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” (Jn 14:5). The last scene is what we have in the Gospel. The story has since marked the person of the disciple: he is the “Doubting Thomas.”

The story of Thomas is one of movement from skepticism to faith. At first, he does not believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Although he accompanied Jesus to Bethany and witnessed how Jesus raised the dead Lazarus to life, this has not created in him any readiness to believe in Jesus’ resurrection. Only after Jesus speaks to him directly and addresses his doubts in a very personal way does Thomas “surrender” and exclaim, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus then addresses Thomas and, through him, the Christians of later generations: “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” The future disciples must accept a new type of relationship with Jesus: a post-glorification discipleship. It is a believing without seeing the historical signs of the earthly Jesus but relying on the testimony of the believing community, now incarnated in the very text of the gospel of John. The gospel was precisely 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” (Jn 20:31).

 

SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.

 
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