The doors are closed……..during these days of Coved 19 we have got used to closed doors. We have watched shops and business put up the baleful notice ‘CLOSED‘ and we feel sadness in our hearts as we realize that someone’s dream has been dimmed and broken.
In John 20:19 we learn that where the disciples were gathered the doors were closed. The dreams of the disciples had vanished and fear prevailed in their hearts. Then, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.“ This greeting would have been regularly used in Jewish society. As the resurrected Jesus gave this greeting, he showed them his wounded hands and side, letting them know that it was really himself who was present – the one who had been crucified. We become aware of the crucified Jesus and the risen Jesus being the same person. Suffering and Joy are integrated. I think there is a wholeness in this awareness, hence Jesus’ peace greeting has profound significance.
This appearance of Jesus must have filled the disciples with peace and strengthened their faith. It prepared them for a significant new thrust in their life’s journey. Jesus now says to them, “As the Father sent me so I am sending you.“ He then breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.“ This particular reception of the Spirit is to inspire them to impart Jesus’ message to the world. This was a new beginning for the disciples, and it brings to mind the biblical description of creation and the beginnings of human beings: God breathed into the nostrils of the Adam that was made of clay and gave him life. Jesus breathed on the disciples on the first day of the week – a time for a new beginning.
Thomas was not present when Jesus showed himself to the other disciples. He expressed disbelief in what they told him. The door of Thomas’ heart was closed to the possibility of resurrection: he declared that he would not believe until he saw the marks of the nails in Jesus’ hands and could put his fingers into the holes they had made and put his hands into the wounded side. The following Sunday, another first day, the community is gathered again. Jesus comes through the closed doors. He invites Thomas to put his fingers into the holes left by the nails. One gets a sense here of Jesus really wanting Thomas to take a step forward. He says to him, “Give me your hand, put it in my side.” Jesus is inviting him to revisit the events of the Passion. A significant part of Jesus’ passion was the opening of his side and the outpouring of the Spirit. At this moment Thomas must have experienced a great outpouring of the Spirit – he utters the remarkable words, “My Lord and my God.” This phrase summarizes for us who Jesus is. “Jesus is Lord” is a phrase that can only be said under the influence of the Spirit, it became a central tenet in the missionary life of the disciples.
In the latter part of today’s gospel Jesus refers to future believers. He says that we are all blessed because we believe without seeing. We are no different to the early Christians. The same ever creative Spirit inspires us to believe in Jesus and to try to follow him.
Sr Kathleen Egan O.P.