Homily for the second Sunday of Easter - Year B - Jn. 20:19-31


by

Canon Dr. 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 h 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:


" 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. "


It is Easter evening. The disciples are in the Cenacle and, as they are afraid, they have closed all the doors, in order that no one might be able to enter the house. Certainly, they did well: they acted prudently in not exposing themselves needlessly to the anger and violence of certain extremist Jews. For they had not yet received the Holy Spirit who would give them strength and constancy in bearing witness to their faith. And this prudence - still too human, it is true - would serve to demonstrate the power of the Lord Jesus: despite all the doors being closed, he comes into their midst. Jesus is risen; his body now possesses a dimension that transcends time and space: that of glory!


" He 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.' "


The resurrected Jesus is in his eternal rest: he is in peace, nothing can trouble him any more, for he has conquered death and sin. Jesus is now the source of all peace, both in Heaven and on earth, because he is both God and Man: he is the one who can give us the peace of Heaven, because he is God, as well as earthly peace, because he is Man. But it is always Jesus who has the initiative of this peace, it is he who goes to his disciples, whenever and however he wants to. Jesus could have appeared to his disciples on Easter morning, but it was in the evening that he chose to do so. In the same way, he could have come when Thomas was with the others. But no, he decided to appear to him later, one week after his Resurrection.


" '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.' "


The Heavenly and earthly peace that Jesus came to bring us is a peace that necessarily puts us at peace with God himself: it is the peace that is the fruit of a good conscience, one that is without reproach, one that is unsullied by sin. He who has a bad conscience is not someone who has received the peace of the Lord: he can be at peace neither with himself nor with others, and even less so with God. We cannot separate the Resurrection of the Lord from his Passion: the Sacrifice of the Cross and the Resurrection of the Savior are two absolutely inseparable events. If the Lord gives us his peace, it is at the cost of his painful Passion, by which he paid the price due for our sins. That is why, on the evening of Easter, Jesus gives his disciples the power of forgiving sins, in order that his peace might be able to spread throughout the universe!


" 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.' "


Eight days after the Resurrection, Thomas is in the Cenacle with the other disciples. And Jesus appears suddenly, as before. Obviously, Jesus comes for Thomas' sake; for he says to him: " 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." Jesus speaks to Thomas in a firm yet gentle manner. It is like an apparition of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to his disciple Thomas. Thomas had the privilege of placing his hand in the side of the Lord and of touching his Heart full of love and mercy! Once again, the Lord wants to show everyone that he came to call not the righteous, but sinners. He is the God of all goodness and tenderness!


" 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. "


This beautiful sentence of Saint John's, which serves as the conclusion of his Gospel, gives us a general perspective on the texts of the Holy Scriptures: all that the prophets wrote, all that the evangelists recounted, it was done in order to help us to believe in the Son of God, it was done to prepare us to worthily receive the eternal life that he is in person! May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary help us to profit from this Word of God: may this reading serve, through Mary, as a fruitful preparation for the Eucharistic communion that we shall receive during this celebration!



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