2nd Sunday of Easter - Doubts and Fears

The impact of Easter in the early Church was for believers to gather as a community, to be together to contemplate the mystery of the resurrection event, to let it touch their minds and hearts, and to reaffirm that one does not live - one cannot live - in isolation. This special sense of community was very tangible in the apostolic church. We read about common living, sharing of common goals and goods, and a great concern that none of the believers should be left alone or in need. But they also recognized that this was a process requiring an ongoing effort.

The Gospel incident with Thomas highlights this same sense of community. The disciples gathered together partly in fear and wonder and partly because they needed each other's support. When Jesus appeared to them he offered them the gift of peace and urged them to make mutual forgiveness the very first sign of their faith in the resurrection.

We are told that Thomas was absent on that occasion, so when he joined them they were eager to share with him their experience of the Risen Lord. But not only did he doubt the reality of the event but he would not even accept the testimony of his brothers. Imagine how frustrating and almost insulting that must have been for the other apostles.

The Gospel tells us that Thomas was so sure of himself he would not be touched by their communal witness.  He insisted on personal, direct proof. But perhaps he was simply afraid.  And maybe his fear couldn't overcome his doubt. There is a very important lesson here about the role of the community.

Scripture reminds us that the resurrection of Jesus brings the gifts of peace and joy and the mission of forgiveness. It also captures the early skepticism of Thomas and certainly that of many others with him. There are those who will always need in some way to touch the wounds of the Risen Christ in order to come to faith and understanding. They will rely on their own opinions and demand some physical proof. Others will become aware of His presence and power in ways that transcend the senses and conventual wisdom. Like Thomas, they will discover the reality of Jesus in and through the community.

Faith in the resurrection of Jesus means that we come to a deeper understanding of what Church really is - especially now in these extraordinary times of disconnect and fracture. Jesus rises to continue to teach, to heal, to forgive and to commission. He does this in and through the community of the people of God.

The aftershocks of Christ's Resurrection should loosen up the tight grip of our self-centeredness and hard-heartedness. They should shake us up and rock the foundations of the fortress we have built around ourselves which houses our complacency, our prejudice, our passing judgment on others and our doubts and fears.

The Easter Event should open our hearts and remind us once again that even after 2000 years there is still so much left to do.