Summary: Without the Resurrection, Christians would be the most hopeless of all people!
APRIL 20, 2001
·First Reading Acts 5:12-16
·Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
·Second Reading Revelation 1:9-13, 17-19
·Gospel John 20:19-31
According to Scriptures (e.g. 1 Cor 15:14-19; 1 Pet. 1:3), had the LORD Jesus not risen from the dead, the entire Christian faith would have no foundation and there would be no Gospel to preach. Without the Resurrection, Christians would be the most hopeless of all people.
Therefore, tonight, we reflect on that crowning truth of our faith in Christ Jesus, which is documented by Scriptures and is a matter of supreme importance in the faith and life of the Church. It is that unsurpassed victory marked by the promise of new life to those who would witness to the truth of the LORD’s salvation.
John’s Gospel, which is mainly the basis of our reflection, describes the wake of that glorious event. It is divided into three scenes, namely, The Commission, The Confession and The Conclusion.
THE COMMISSION (JN. 20:19-23)
The first scene begins on Sunday, which happens to be the first day of Creation according to the Book of Genesis. Sunday is also the LORD’s Day or the Christian Sabbath, that one day in seven where Christ meets His Church, an appointment He has always kept. Hence, the Church teaches us that it should be observed religiously in celebration of the LORD’s victory over death.
On that glorious day, the Risen Master unexpectedly enters the Upper Room and gives His terrified Apostles, minus Thomas, the traditional Jewish greeting, "Peace be with you," twice. The repetition of this greeting elevates it to convey not the absence of conflict but rather that the Presence of Salvation and Fulfillment of Redemption now stand right before them. The apostles, then, receive their commission to witness to the truth of His salvation and be instruments of healing and forgiveness. Within that commissioning, our Savior breathes into them some power of the Holy Spirit, which, again, has a striking reference to Genesis. As He breathed natural life into Adam, so now He breathes spiritual life into His apostles. As man became the image of God, so now they become the image of Christ, making them no longer servants but sons of the Living God. Thus, in this solemn ceremony, we see newness of life as the first fruit of Redemption.
THE CONFESSION (JN. 20:24-29)
The second scene occurs eight days later with Thomas’ encounter with Jesus. Little is known about Thomas, but, based on John’s Gospel, he was probably a Jew from Galilee, whose name means "twin," corresponding to the Greek name "Didymus." There seems to be a firm honesty about Thomas. It seems that he would never silence his doubts by pretending that they did not exist, but when he was sure, he went beyond the call of faith. Tradition says that Thomas preached and was martyred in India, where he founded seven churches, one of which is The Thomist Church that has about half a million members today.
Aware of Thomas’ doubt, the Prince of Peace enters the Upper Room again, invites Thomas to touch His wounds, and challenges him with the words, "…do not be unbelieving, but believe." John’s description leads us to conclude that Thomas moves from doubt to faith without actually touching the LORD, for he immediately utters that paramount confession of faith, "My LORD and my God!" A confession that conveys repentance, reverence and rejoicing rolled into one powerful declaration. Ironically, he, who is last to believe, becomes the first to confess the full Divinity of the LORD Jesus so that our own wounds of faithlessness might be healed. Though known traditionally as the "Doubting Thomas," he, nevertheless, deserves every credit for recognizing Christ as a man but believing in Him as God.
THE CONCLUSION (JN. 20:30-31)
Finally, St. John speaks directly to us at the end of this account. He says that our Redeemer did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book. Evidence that surely existed, but which we do not need. With this, the Fourth Gospel ends as it began, declaring that Jesus is both LORD and God.
In essence, while the season of Lent stresses repentance and penance, Resurrection Sunday gives emphasis to new life, which is a passage from death to life, from condemnation to salvation. It is a time of hope, faith and love, for the LORD has reopened the gates of Heaven and has overcome the powers of darkness. It is also a time of forgiveness, healing and reconciliation. Nurturing this rebirth, however, requires our surrender to the Holy Spirit, Whose inspiration moves us to respond to the LORDship of Christ, enables us to grow in Christian maturity and opens wide our hearts to the message of the Cross.
The disciples have seen the Risen LORD. Their fear has given way to joy that comes only with Christ’s peace. They have received both their commission and the Spirit that empowers its fulfillment. With this in mind, let us now consider the following directions: