Homily for the second Easter Sunday - Year C - Jn. 20:19-31
 
 
by
 
Father Daniel Meynen
 
 
 
"On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, « Peace be with you. » When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, « Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. » And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, « Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained. »
 
"Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, « We have seen the Lord. » But he said to them, « Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe. » Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, « Peace be with you. » Then he said to Thomas, « Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing. » Thomas answered him, « My Lord and my God! » Jesus said to him, « Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. »
 
"Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name."
 
 
 
Homily:
 
 
"Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, « Peace be with you. »"
 
Today's gospel speaks both about the apparition of the risen Lord on Easter, and about his apparition eight days later. Today, it is eight days after Easter: we celebrate the octave day of the solemnity of the Resurrection of Christ. The Church celebrates two octaves: that of Christmas, and that of Easter. Before the liturgical reform ordered by the Council of Vatican II, we also celebrated the octave of Pentecost. In even earlier times, the Church celebrated other octaves as well: those of Corpus Christi and All Saints' Day, for example. The reason for this practice comes from the Law of the Old Testament, that which God himself prescribed through his prophets, which included the ordinances concerning the dedication of the Temple. Since Jesus came to fulfill the Law, there is no doubt that this apparition of the Lord eight days after his Resurrection is significant. For had not Christ himself announced his Resurrection, speaking about the temple of his body? (cf. Jn. 2:21)
 
"Then he said to Thomas, « Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing. » Thomas answered him, « My Lord and my God! »"
 
Thomas, who was not present at the time of the apparition of Jesus on Easter evening, witnesses an apparition that is, so to speak, specifically intended for him. Christ is good and merciful! He is all Love! And it is precisely his Heart which he offers to Thomas so that he may touch it and receive from it torrents of graces. What an image! What a sign of tenderness and of compassion for all his people! This symbol of the merciful love of the Lord had already been announced by the prophets! Indeed, Ezekiel said in his vision of the temple: "Behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward... the waters came down from under, from the right side of the house..." (Ez. 47:1) And later, when Jesus had already died on the cross, a soldier pierced his right side and "at once there came out blood and water" (Jn. 19:34), a sign of Christ's life of love, which led him even to the folly of the cross!
 
"Jesus said to him, « Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. »"
 
Thomas believed in the resurrected Son of God because he had seen the wounds in his hands and side. When Jesus said to Thomas: "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe", his intention is not to reproach him. Thomas has already humbled himself, recognizing his Lord and believing in him. But Jesus wants Thomas' case to be an exception, an exception that confirms the rule: believing without seeing. When Jesus came to the Cenacle eight days after Easter, it was to show that, in the life of the Church, there are exceptions, and sometimes even surprising and unusual exceptions. This happens from time to time, and God wants it to be so. But this is not his usual procedure. Believing without seeing: behold the common fate of the believers in Christ! "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."
 
"Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name."
 
It is necessary to believe in order to have eternal life! It is necessary to believe that Jesus, this man who died and returned to life, is the Son of God! It is what we shall do in the course of this Eucharistic celebration. We are going to proclaim our faith in the Son of God! Without seeing, we believe! We will only see bread, but we believe that it is really Christ's Body! Let us thank the Lord for this faith which he gave us! Let us receive him again today so that he may fortify our faith in him now and always! Let us ask Mary to help us: she is the one who always believed in Jesus! May Mary pray for us so that our faith be strengthened through the power of God himself!
 

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