“I don’t believe it!”

2021 Easter Sunday Octave (B)

Those of you who have come to mass during the week have been hearing of the various post resurrection appearances of Christ to Mary Magdalen, to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, to Peter James and John in Galilee, and then finally to all the disciples together. If you heard these accounts you will know that those who saw the risen Lord first weren’t believed. What this does is to underline how difficult it was/is to believe in the resurrection from the dead. We are born 2,000 years after the event, so it’s hard for us to appreciate what it must have been like. 

Thomas, in today’s gospel, could easily represent many of us. He is hard headed. He doesn’t care how many say they have seen him, he refuses to believe. You can imagine how persuasive Peter and the other disciples would have been. Thomas surely noticed the difference in them. But no matter, Thomas had seen Jesus die and no one, not even the collective joy and enthusiasm of the apostles, could convince him otherwise.  There was only one way he could be convinced and that was to see Jesus himself.  And we know that this is in fact what happened. What a shock he must have had when a week later, Jesus did appear to him. Now this hard-headed, stubborn man, had all the proof he needed. The change in him was dramatic. He says, “My Lord and my God.” I am sure there were tears when he said this; tears of pure joy.  And Jesus said to him, “ Doubt no long but believe”.  

Then Jesus said to him and the others who were present, “you believe because you can see me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.”  He is referring to us: we did not see Jesus but we believe in him. I have heard people say, “if only I could see Jesus for myself, my faith would be so much stronger.” But would it?  We can and do believe in Jesus even though we’ve not seen him. Even though we are here 2000 years after Jesus walked this earth, he is still very much with us. Not only that but he wants us to know him as well as anyone who knew him personally. He wants to be our friend, our companion along the way. This is what gives us life; this is what makes sense of our lives, even when they can be a mess. He loves us as much as he loved John, Peter, Mary Magdalen and the rest of his disciples. The person who really believes in the resurrection of Christ will be a clear witness to him and will be blessed indeed. Jesus repeats for us today; “Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

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