I had a friend named Joe, a deacon in a Christian Church, and he was more of a Christian than most of us Catholics are. On this First Sunday after Easter I got to thinking of something Joe said. He said he admired the way the Catholic Church followed its beloved patterns. (Like, on this first Sunday after Easter we always have the stories of Jesus appearing once when Thomas wasn’t there, then once when he was there.) Joe said his pastor made up his own services week after week.
As I let my imagination carry me to the scene of Our Lord’s second appearance, I wonder if Thomas or anyone else really put a finger in Our Lord’s hand or put a hand on his side. I wonder too how really human his body could have been if it could pass through locked doors.
My thoughts wander too to the closing paragraph in today’s Gospel. Thinking about it, I see that it is an accurate summary of John’s Gospel. (In it John said he chose to tell only stories that showed Jesus to be the Mesiiah, and that we have life by believing in him,) John left out many of the parables and miracles that we read in Mathew, Mark and Luke. He selected his stories very carefully. Each one of them showed us how Jesus was the Messiah and that we have life through believing in him. That was true of the story of Nicodemus who came by night, and of the Samaritan woman who came at noon.
In our efforts to fully understand any individual Bible passage it helps to know something about its author. The Second Vatican Council gave us a wonderful document telling us how to get the most out of each book in the Bible. It is the “Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation.” and it told us we should take note of the Bible’s human authors.
With today’s Gospel being about the risen Christ, and since it was written by St. John, it might help us to consider John’s impressions of the Risen Christ which he recorded in our Second Reading. In that passage from Revelation John saw Jesus wearing an ankle-length robe with a gold sash. Jesus told John, “I am the first and the last, I am the one who lives. I hold the keys to death and to the netherworld.”