Thu, 08 Apr 21 Lectio Divina - Year B
First Reading: Acts 4:32-35, Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24,First John 5:1-6, Second Reading: Gospel: John 20:19-31, John 5:1-6
In these six verses familiar themes of the epistle recur with fresh nuances. And again, each theme reminds us not only of the first chapters of this epistle, but of John’s Gospel which must have served as scripture for this community. Though the epistle’s stress has shifted from the emphasis on love to the emphasis on belief, it is clear that love of God is inseparable from love of one’s Christian sisters and brothers. The twofold loyalty to God and to brothers and sisters is inseparable. We know we love God because we love others; we know we love others because we love God. And there is no love of God without the love of one’s neighbor.
The life of faith is a life within family. God is the parent in this family; believers are brothers and sisters. As in any healthy family, the community grows both in parental and in sibling love and loyalty. For the early church depicted in Acts, the resurrection of Christ is less a creedal article of individual faith and hope than a creative force of community formation and fellowship.Our text particularly highlights the habit of land/homeowners’ selling their properties and laying the proceeds at the apostles’ feet for distribution to anyone in need. Accordingly, “there was not a needy person among them” in this power- and grace-filled resurrection community (4:34). What a remarkable group! They held everything “in common,” yet were notably uncommon by normal social standards, both in the limited goods, zero-sum world of Mediterranean antiquity and in the private-boosting, wealth-expanding economy of modern Western capitalism.
The story of Thomas, as narrated in John 20:19-31, assures us that we do not have to be “perfect” in order to be loved by Jesus. Jesus calls us his own and loves us deeply, not because of imperfection, but very much because of them. Thomas was not a perfect believer. But that did not make Jesus love Thomas any less.
For Thomas tag of ‘doubt’ will stick with him forever. But that should not take any credit off this redoubtable leader. Thomas playing a distinctive part in three memorable passages, his personality is clearer to us than that of many others of the twelve. The first passage is the occasion was the death of Lazarus. Thomas in a moment of bravery very unusual for the apostles before Pentecost, called up n his companions to rally behind their master come what may. The second passage is the passion prediction. Thomas too misunderstood Jesus’ reference to his death, but he sought clarification. The third passage is his conspicuous absence from the upper room. The disbelief of Thomas has done more for our faith than the faith of the other disciples. The life of St.Thomas is an invitation for us to move from disbelief to belief, from doubt to faith.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus greets his disciples with the gift of peace. Jesus then commissions his disciples to continue the work that he has begun; as Jesus was sent by God, so Jesus sends his disciples. He gives his disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit so that they will be able to accomplish this task. Jesus’ words to his disciples also highlight the integral connection between the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. With the grace of the Holy Spirit, we can share forgiveness and reconciliation with others.
Thomas, the doubting disciple in today’s reading, represents the reality of the Church that comes after this first community of witnesses to Jesus. All but the first disciples of Jesus must believe without seeing. Like Thomas, we may doubt the news that Jesus, who was crucified and buried, appeared to his disciples. Our human nature seeks hard evidence that the Jesus who appeared to his disciples after his death is indeed the same Jesus who was crucified. Thomas is given the opportunity to be our representative in obtaining this evidence. He gives witness to us that the Jesus who was raised is the same Jesus who died. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are among those who are blessed, for we have not seen and yet believe.
The mercy of God is actually the action of God. It is God Himself. Look at Jesus. He sees the blind and he cures the blind. He sees the hungry and he feeds the hungry. He sees the lost and lonely and goes to them and gives them a new purpose and a new life. He sees those who are sick and he heals. This is God’s mercy at work, and now that we have been baptized, we are to share that. We are the ones who carry this because we carry the mercy of God within us and mercy makes something out of nothing.
There is no reason to be discouraged as long as the living Christ is in the world, because he will take what is dark and bring light to it, he will take what is sinful and he will forgive it, he will take what is impossible to do, which is change the hearts of men and women, and he will change them. When the disciples said, “We have seen the Lord,” he said, “I will not believe unless I put my hand into his side and feel his wounds, I will not believe.”
And, of course, this is the word of a disillusioned, angry person. These are the words of someone who’d hoped and hoped dearly and was willing to die for him, and yet was terribly disappointed by what had happened.
And it is for this reason Jesus says, “Come Thomas, touch my wounds. Put your hand in my side where the sword entered my heart. Put your fingers into the wounds of my hands and my feet. And why is he saying this? This is a very, very important concept. We are saved by his wounds, we are saved by his pain, we are saved by his death, because it is only out of touching his wounds, and he touching our wounds, that we understand that God has come to be with us, not only in the spirit, but in the Risen Lord. He has shared our pain, and he has done that, and he wants the disciples to know that when they go out to the world, they must realize the entry of God is first by vulnerability.
And what Jesus says, “Peace be with you,” he means God, “God be with you,” because to have God with you is to have peace. Peace is not just something, it is not something that men and women sit around and discuss. For God, peace means God Himself. God is our peace. The Father is our peace. Jesus is our peace. The Holy Spirit is our peace.
So what Jesus is saying is that when he says, “Peace be with you,” he means recognise that God Himself is with you, and we are going to begin a new way of looking at the world and addressing the world. And that’s what he wants you to know.
John seems to be telling us that everything has changed. Into that moment of fear and surprise, Jesus comes with a message of comfort, “Peace be with you.” In fact, he offers that message to them twice. First, when they first see this figure suddenly appear before them. Then, he repeats this message once again after they realize that they, like Mary before them, have finally met the risen Christ. But it is important for us to notice that they neither recognize him nor rejoice until Jesus shows them his hands and his side. We should not chastise Thomas for later asking for the same manifestation.