Year B Second Sunday of Easter
John 20: 19 – 31
Father, you wait for us until we are open to you.
We wait for your Word to make us receptive.
Attune us to your voice, to your silence.
Speak and bring your Son to us – Jesus – the Word of your peace.
Go to your Bible and read this text several times. At this stage please concentrate on the
disciples and then on Jesus. Take note of the number of times ‘disciples’ is mentioned.
I found that the word ‘disciples’ is mentioned five times.
Imagine yourself in an early Christian community listening to this text. Your attention is
caught by this repetition. There is no doubt in your mind who Jesus is addressing: all His
disciples, especially you.
READ the text once more. This time I ask you to try to identify how the disciples change or do not change as the story unfolds. We call this process of change, “Movement”. Look carefully at then as the story begins – doors are closed, fear. Can you see any change in their emotions and attitude as the story progresses? Does this story have a happy ending?
You may have experienced a similar change / movement in your life. Perhaps you can see
how this happened in a relationship you experienced.
I have selected some relevant parts for you to read now.
19In the evening of the same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the
room where the disciples were for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, 21and he said to them again, “Peace be with you.”
26Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The
doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. “Peace be with you” he said.
30Therewere many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, but they are not recorded in this book.
Use your imagination, placing yourself in the story as one of the disciples.
As Jesus enters the community of disciples they are completely turned in on themselves.
The prevailing emotion is one of fear. They are terrified of the authorities. However there
are other reasons for their fear. I am sure that most of them are full of guilt, after all, only a few women and one man stood by Jesus during his crucifixion. Just imagine the shame and concern they feel when Jesus appears. What is he going to say? How hurt and angry is he be?
Jesus appears. There is dead silence. The tension mounts. What is going to happen? And
then Jesus speaks. “Peace be with you.” See the surprise on their faces. They are astounded.
Experience the relief. All burst into applause, greetings are shouted back and forth, their joy explodes.
Not one word of blame or condemnation. Their friendship with him seems to be just the
same. No wonder there is “joy” among them. This seems too good to be true, but it is true.
The disciples still find it difficult to believe that it is true. Jesus sensing their doubt reassures them by repeating, “Peace be with you.”
“Eight days later” – the first day of a new week. Do not read this literally. Remember that
God completed his creation in a week. John is telling us that Jesus is busy with transforming the lives of his disciples. Jesus realises that we can only change slowly and so he allows plenty of time for the disciples to realise that he still loves them and will continue to do so.
“Eight days later”, nothing has changed. The doors are still closed. The disciples’ minds
are still closed. They have not yet let go of their fears and guilt. They have not yet forgiven
themselves. Jesus has to reassure them once again – “Peace be with you.”
This is a time of struggle for Jesus’ disciples. How hard it is for them to realise that Jesus
forgives them unconditionally?
It is Thomas who leads the way. He is surrounded by a community of people who have not
yet been able to accept that they have been forgiven. He is the first to “see” and understand
the message of Jesus – we are forgiven. There Jesus stands, wounds and all, and all
hear Jesus say, “You are forgiven.” Thomas, alone, can fully absorb this. He responds,
completely accepting this FORGIVING GOD:
“My Lord and my God.”
The story is not over. Jesus has a very special message for all of us.
As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.”
22After saying this he breathed on them and
said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
23For those whose sins you forgive, they
(Go and forgive as you have been
are forgiven; forgiven by me today.)
for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.”
(I was sent to lighten people’s burdens, you go and follow).
(Receive the Spirit of Forgiveness).
(Go and forgive as you have been forgiven by me today).
Everyone of us is called to live as Jesus did. We are called to forgive – ourselves and others.
FORGIVENESS is one of the “keys of the Kingdom of God.” Mt 16: 19 By forgiving we
make the Kingdom of God present in the world. If we do not forgive!!! What a mess our lives will be!!!
Just look around the world and see what happens when we refuse to/cannot forgive – Israel and the Palestinians – the conflict in Afganistan – the decades of pain when there is no forgiveness in families.
John tells us that eventually the disciples “saw”.
The disciples understand that Jesus forgives them.
God forgives them.
This is the “sign” – a mighty deed.
We too are forgiven.
We too can and should forgive in the same way.
(We too can do mighty “signs”.)
Let us now pray in the words of this scripture.
Jesus, peace be with you and may there be peace/forgiveness between you and me. Give
us the grace to bring peace/forgiveness to all those who surround us. May I be a person of
peace/forgiveness. Jesus, I hear you saying to me, “Doubt no longer but believe.” Help me to believe that our God is not like me. I find it so hard to forgive. Our God is forgiveness itself. Jesus stir me, so that I may have a forgiving heart, just as you have.