John 20: 19-31
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then 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.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told 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 in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.”
Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Peace to all people of good will
The Church of the Gesu in University Heights, Ohio, in which I serve, is located in a neighborhood with many Jewish families and several synagogues. In the opening words of today’s Gospel passage from John, we are told that the “disciples” are in a “locked” house “for fear of the Jews.” Our parishioners, and especially our school children, find this confusing, aware as they are that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, as well as just about all the disciples in the time before Pentecost were Jews from Galilee and Judea and that Christians and Jews have a common heritage of worship.
Writing decades after the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus for a community of Christians of both Gentile and Jewish backgrounds, John the Evangelist used the term “the Jews” to mean the established religious authorities of Jesus’ time – the elders and chief priests — who felt that the only way to preserve Temple worship for their people was to cultivate an uneasy and delicate alliance with the Roman occupiers, symbolized by Pontius Pilate in the Gospels.
In these circumstances, in the midst of doubt, fear, hesitation, and grief over the loss of their beloved leader, the disciples hear Jesus offer them “Peace”. Can we accept that gift of peace of mind and heart and relationships from the Lord? Can we make peace and be reconciled to all people of good will?
—Fr. Michael A. Vincent, SJ, serves as associate pastor of the Church of the Gesu in University Heights, OH.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young, at your altars,
O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.
Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.
—From Psalm 84
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