Well, the Octave of Easter concludes today with Divine Mercy Sunday and one of the most famous Gospel scenes contained within the Bible: The story of “Doubting Thomas”.
“Sisters and brothers, we are called beyond all our doubts into a life of faith, to believe what we have never seen or heard except through the words and lives of witnesses who have preceded us,” says Bishop Boyea in today’s reflection, April 11.
“However, we do not make this act of faith out of sheer will power. Rather, we have been given the Holy Spirit who enables us to cry out to the one who was crucified, was buried, and was raised from the dead, ‘My Lord and my God!'” Read Bishop Boyea’s text in full below:
Bishop Boyea’s Seven Days of Easter | Sunday:
Poor Thomas! He gets such a bad rap. The other apostles had not believed Mary Magdalene but the title of being “doubting” falls on Thomas alone. It is a week after Jesus first appeared to the apostles. They were in the upper room and fearful that first day. Now they are still locked in the upper room, but there is no mention of fear. No doubt, though, Thomas’ skepticism has probably played on all of them.
Then Jesus tells Thomas to probe his hand and his lanced side. Throughout the world, the Church celebrates Mercy Sunday today. It is a day on which we focus on that pierced side from which flowed water and blood, the signs of our sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist. It is the side of mercy for Thomas and the other apostles and for us.
Yet, Jesus goes beyond healing. He gives us the promised gift, the Holy Spirit. Jesus breathes this Spirit upon them just as the divine wind hovered over the chaos to give us creation (Genesis 1:2), just as God breathed into the clay of Adam to give him life (Genesis 2:7).
In John’s Gospel, the gift of the Spirit is the result of both the death and resurrection of the Lord. Thus, when Jesus died on the cross, we are told, “And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit” (John 19:30). John had told us that the Spirit would be given when Jesus should be glorified (John 7:39). Yet Jesus had said, “when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself,” thus indicating the manner of his death (John 12:32-33). Death and Resurrection are united in Jesus and the Spirit flows from them both.
The final reflection for today is the role of faith. Thomas had to see and probe. We, on the other hand, rely on the testimony of these witnesses. That is faith. Jesus’ words comfort us: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:29).
Sisters and brothers, we are called beyond all our doubts into a life of faith, to believe what we have never seen or heard except through the words and lives of witnesses who have preceded us. However, we do not make this act of faith out of sheer will power. Rather, we have been given the Holy Spirit who enables us to cry out to the one who was crucified, was buried, and was raised from the dead, “My Lord and my God!”