Acts of the Apostles 2:42-47
The first community of Christians grows as its members meet to pray and break bread.
God’s love is everlasting.
1 Peter 1:3-9
We have new hope because of Jesus’ Resurrection.
Thomas believes because he sees Jesus.
Background on the Gospel Reading
The Gospels tell us that Jesus appeared to the disciples on several occasions after they discovered that his tomb was empty. Part of the mystery of Jesus’ Resurrection is that he appeared to his disciples not as a spirit but in bodily form. The bodily form was not one that the disciples recognized though. In John’s Gospel, Mary of Magdala does not recognize that the figure standing before her is Jesus until he speaks to her. In Luke’s Gospel the disciples who meet Jesus on the road to Emmaus do not recognize him until he breaks bread with them. The resurrected Jesus had a physical presence, but the disciples couldn’t recognize Jesus unless he allowed them to. His resurrected body, nonetheless, showed the marks of his crucifixion.
From readings such as today’s Gospel, we also see that in his resurrected body, Jesus seems to be free of physical constraints. He appears to the disciples despite the fact that the doors were locked.
Jesus greets his disciples with the gift of peace and the gift of the Holy Spirit. In doing so, Jesus commissions his disciples to continue the work that he has begun: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” During the meeting, Jesus also shows the integral connection between forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The story of Thomas illustrates our Christian experience today: We are called to believe without seeing. In fact, all Christians after the first witnesses have been called to believe without seeing. Thomas’s doubt is hardly surprising; the news of Jesus’ appearance was incredible to the disciples who had seen him crucified and buried. Thomas’s human nature compelled him to want hard evidence that the Jesus who appeared to the disciples after his death was indeed the same Jesus who had been crucified. Thomas is given the opportunity to act on that desire. He is our witness that Jesus is really risen.
Our faith is based on the witness of the Church that has preceded us, beginning with Thomas and the first disciples. Through Baptism we receive the same Holy Spirit that Jesus brought to the first disciples. We are among those who are “blessed” because we believe without having seen.