1.Acts 2:42-47

There is the story of a man and a barber who were discussing about the existence of God. The barber said: " God does not exist because if there is God there will be no suffering." The man did not reply to avoid arguments. Then  he left the barbershop.
Being outside he saw a beggar with long dirty hair. The man went back to the barbershop and told the barber: You know barbers don't exist. The barber answered: " Can't you see I'm a barber?" The man answered back: If a barber exists then there would be no man with dirty long hair." The barber answered again: " It is just that they don't come to me." Then the man said: " Like God if people will come to Him there will be no suffering."

Dear brothers and sisters today's gospel passage presents to us two appearances of the Risen Lord to His apostles and disciples: first, without Thomas and then a week after with St. Thomas already. He shows them His wounds so that there would be no doubt about who He is or what has happened to Him. He greets them the same way that a priest greets us during the celebration of the Mass: " Peace be with you." Jesus breathes on his disciples and says: " Receive the Holy Spirit." At confirmation, the bishop or the priest delegated by the bishop makes the sign of the cross on a person's forehead with chrism saying: "Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit."So, we who have been confirmed have received exactly what Jesus' original disciple received.

A week after which is the second appearance, this deals now with the doubting Thomas who is not present with the rest of the apostles when Jesus appears among them. He has his own preconceived ideas of what God was like; a complex person of courage, ignorance, doubt and faith. That is why this Second Sunday of Easter is called the Doubting Sunday because the gospel that we use every year during this Sunday is about Thomas who doubted the resurrection of Jesus when his companions told him about the event.

St. Thomas the apostle is one of the chosen twelve disciples of Jesus to be His apostles. Throughout  his life, he always believed in Jesus. He did not miss attending to the teachings of Jesus. He lost hope when the source of his inspiration, the light of his life was nailed on the cross and he died. So when his companion said that his inspiration was raised from the dead, in the first place, he did not believe. Rather, he said: " Unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands and that my finger into the nail marks and put my hands into His side, I will not believe,"( v.25). In other words, a firsthand experience or to see is to believe.

After Jesus' resurrection, St. Thomas has another characteristics that we should learn. First he left the group. We should not do what he did. The other ten, even if they are sad of the death of Jesus, banded together except St. Thomas. He detached himself from the group. That is why when Jesus appeared to the group, St. Thomas was not able to enjoy Christ's presence. So when we are sad or are discouraged of our church leaders and other groups we should not detach ourselves from Christian community, the church. The presence of Christ always comes within our Christian community. It is He says: " Where two or three are gathered in my name I am in their midst."

The second thing is St. Thomas was sincere that he really doubted the resurrection of Jesus. Doubt is a part of life and it is okay. Who among us can tell that we do not doubt? All of us doubt. But let us use our doubts to inform ourselves about what bothers us . St. Thomas did not understand what was happening, so he did not presume that he knew everything. He could not grasp it fully that a person died and came back to life. He was a man who was having trouble hearing from others that Jesus had been raised from the dead and that it was something to rejoice over. He taught us a lesson that if we do not understand, then, let us humbly, honestly and sincerely accept the fact that we do not know and understand, so we ask others to explain it to us. At the end he just said: " My Lord and my God!"

The last thing that we can learn from St. Thomas is after he knew and understood that great event he went all the way even unto death in following Jesus Christ. He had given himself totally and completely to the Lord without any doubt anymore and disappointment. He had offered himself to God not just ten percent of it but a hundred percent. I hope that when everything becomes clear to us, we can also give ourselves to the Lord all the way. And also if there is no God and we die, nothing would change. But if there is a God and we die, we better hope that we live like there is a God.

Jesus in today's gospel commissions the apostles to forgive sins. This is a function that can be exercised only where there is a believing community, or else each one would be absolving  their own personal sins.  Today's Thomases often do not appreciate nor have recourse to this avenue of reconciliation with God and with the community that is affected by our sins. May  the success story of Thomas help us all to appreciate the important role of the church and the sacraments in or spiritual journey to meet the risen Lord.

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Chapisha Maoni