Divine Mercy Sunday Jn 20:19-31
We call St. Thomas the Apostle “doubting Thomas”; we may be off the mark in doing so. Jesus did not ask the other apostles to believe in his resurrection without showing them the wounds in his hands and sides.
Thomas was merely demanding his rights as an apostle when he demanded the same privilege. And none of the others responded to the risen Christ with a faith as complete and firm as Thomas’: “My Lord and my God!” Thomas knew what this meant. He knew that if Christ has come back from the dead, then everything he said about himself, everything he claimed to be, was true. Jesus blessed him for his faith.
Our faith, and the faith of all Christians throughout the centuries, is built upon the solid foundation of the apostles’ testimony to the risen Christ, a testimony validated by twenty uninterrupted centuries of Church life, of saints and martyrs, of sacraments, Liturgy, and a college of bishops that links us directly, even physically, to that little group of frightened apostles who encountered the Risen One. Blessed indeed are we who have believed: although we have not seen Christ in the flesh, we have seen, experienced, and benefited from the undeniable work of his Spirit. In times of darkness and doubt, we know where to look to recover the light.
At the beginning of creation, “the earth was a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters.” (Genesis 1:2) When God created man and woman, he “formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being.” The word for “wind” in Hebrew (and in Greek, the language of the New Testament) is the same as the word for “breath” and “Spirit.” Thus, when St. John points out the detail of Jesus breathing on the disciples as he gives them the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the commission to carry on his work of evangelization, he is calling to mind the “wind” and the “breathing” of the first creation. The Fathers of the Church understood this first post-Resurrection appearance to the apostles as the start of a new creation. Jesus has won the forgiveness of sin, which marred the first creation, and dubs his apostles messengers and distributors of this forgiveness. As they spread it throughout the world and build up the Church, all mankind is to be renewed, elevated to a more sublime intimacy with God. As St. Paul put it, “So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)