Homily for the second Easter Sunday

Year A  -  John 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:


"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."

All this week, we have celebrated the feast of Easter!  The Church, in the joy and triumph of the Lordís Resurrection, demonstrated her faith in the Son of God in a continuous manner, day after day:  by consecrating an entire week to the Resurrection of Christ, the Church wanted to show all men her faith and her hope in the everlastingness of her own Resurrection at the end of time!  For, then will be the day that does not wane, the day that is not followed by another, the day that will last forever in the eternity of God!  It will be the Day of the Lord, the "Dies Domini" of the eternal Resurrection!

What took place on the Day of Easter is thus repeated throughout the week that follows.  And the same is true on Sunday, eight days after the first apparition of the Lord.  It is not said in the gospel that the Lord appeared on every day following his Resurrection.  But why would he not have done so?  When he had only forty days of life on earth left to him, wouldn't Jesus have made profitable use of this precious time by speaking with his disciples?  Saint Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, very clearly implies this when he speaks of Jesus and the Apostles, saying:  "To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God." (Ac. 1:3)  Moreover, wouldn't Jesus have appeared every day to Mary, his Mother?

"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.""

Without any doubt, the risen Jesus frequently appeared to his disciples.  There were some apparitions about which we know hardly anything, for they were of a rather private nature, and there were other apparitions which were mentioned by the evangelists in their narratives.  We know that the evangelists could not recount all of the words and deeds of the Lord.  Saint John was careful to inform us of this, in case we needed to be told:  "Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book."  And:  "There are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not
contain the books that would be written." (John 21:25)

There were, therefore, three major apparitions of the Lord:  that of Easter evening, that of the eighth day after the Resurrection, and that of the miraculous catch of fish.  Saint John is speaking of this last apparition when he says:  "This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead." (John 21:14)  But there were also other apparitions.  For instance, Jesus had appeared to Peter after Easter morning:  "He has been seen by Simon." (Luke 24:34)  Similarly, Jesus was seen by Mary of Magdala, who told the disciples:  "I have seen the Lord." (John 20:18)

The apparition of the eighth day, which could be the second in importance according to Saint John, is not really such:  rather, it is a sign of the "final" apparition of the Risen Lord, for it comes at the end of this week, which God himself had established from the Creation of the world!  The week is indeed the time of God, the periodicity which the Creator had, in a way, inscribed into all of creation in order that the latter might give him honor and glory at a fixed and predetermined time.  The week is the sign, ever present among us, that proclaims the eternity of God and the Return of his Christ!

"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." "

Thomas, the Apostle who was unwilling to believe in the Resurrection of his Master, shows us very well how great may be, on the one hand, the weakness of the believers who will be confronted in the end times, and on the other hand, the mercy of God who comes to the aid of his elect using every possible means.  Thomas didn't want to believe . . .  Now, didn't Jesus say:  "When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:8)  But Jesus didn't disdain to appear to Thomas for the express purpose of helping the latter to recover his faith in him!  And he appeared to Thomas for our sake as well!  "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."