Second Sunday of Easter (2017)
By Fr. Leroy Clementich, CSC
There seems to be a rather peculiar phenomenon going on in our world today; perhaps it’s always been there, but at least it appears more obvious in our times. Why do we have such a hard time understanding one another? We live in a time of high-powered technological communication and yet there is so much doubt among us. Instead of trusting each other’s word on some issue we invariably insist on going to so-called “trusted services”: we check first with NBC, CBS, ABC, CBS, NPR, Huff Post, USA Today, Fact Checkers and especially with good old Google. In other words, we consult the experts rather than trust our intuitions. In short, so often we seem like doubters; we insist on fact and truth based on on what we can prove.
On this Second Sunday of Easter the scriptures always describe for us a classic case of doubt. Thomas the apostle refuses to believe that Jesus, the one whom he had followed all these many months, the one whom he had seen die on the cross had risen from the dead and was now actually speaking to him once again.
To be honest, I really believe that Thomas has been badly treated over all the centuries. He simply wanted to make sure that his senses were not deceiving him. So, he insisted on touching Jesus body, yes, even the wounds on his hands, feet and side. That would be proof enough that this was still the same Jesus of Nazareth in whom he believed. Most of us would do the same.
At the same time, we who are Christian believers face the same dilemma almost every day: we are asked to believe in many of our Christian doctrines that cannot be proven. We believe in the Eucharist, in the Trinity, in the trustworthiness of the scriptures and many others. There is no way to prove any of these except by way of our trust that God will not deceive us.
In the natural world where we live there are also countless mysteries that we take for granted: the orderliness of the cosmos, our assumption that day follows night, that the sun will rise tomorrow, that our planet will not suddenly destroy itself.
From my own point of view, I believe our greatest source of trust must lie in one another and in the communities that we are part of. If we cannot rely on these, we are in deep trouble.
We have a fine example of community trust in today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. The community of Jesus’ believers is just beginning to form. Saint Luke, the author of Acts tells us that they were devoted to community life, to daily prayer and the breaking of the bread (Eucharist). They shared all things in common and divided what they had with those in need. They took their meals in common and praised God day by day.
It seems obvious that this is one of the reasons why the early church grew so quickly, they trusted each other and were determined that this great adventure of Jesus should not fail.
Today, we Catholics are obviously part of an immensely larger and more complicated church, but in many ways we resemble those early Christian communities cited in the Acts of the Apostles. We trust in the same faith, we celebrate the breaking of the bread each Sunday; we do what we can to care for those who struggle with less.
In some mysterious way we Catholics, Christians of today strive to touch Jesus Christ as Thomas did and like those early Christians also did. It all takes place each Sunday when we make our act of faith, break bread together and discover that the living Christ is sitting right next to us in the pew.
The Scriptures: Acts 2:42-47 • 1 Peter 1:3-9 • John 20:19-31
USCCB Bible Daily Readings: Second Sunday of Easter