On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
UNDERSTAND | By Father Greg Friedman, OFM
“I’ll need to see some proof.” “Can you back that up?” “How can you be certain?” Have you used any of those expressions today?
Influenced by the scientific mindset which shapes so much of our way of looking at the world, most of us want proof for anything beyond our experience. We don’t want to be “taken in” by extravagant claims or wild speculations.
So today’s Gospel, the story of “Doubting Thomas,” has a modern appeal. Thomas wants proof of the Resurrection. Scripture scholar Father Raymond Brown notes that, in John’s Gospel, Thomas’s story is part of a string of experiences linking faith to something concrete: the Beloved Disciple sees folded cloths in the tomb, Mary Magdalene hears Christ’s voice, the disciples see the risen Lord. It’s natural for Thomas to want concrete evidence.
But the evangelist and Jesus, Father Brown notes, are interested in a different reaction: What about those who believe without any physical evidence? Clearly, John wants his readers to make an act of faith, for Jesus calls such believers “blessed.”
When we hear this Gospel proclaimed at Mass today, we can draw some reassurances from our fellow believers. The idealistic portrait of the Church in the first reading may not mirror our own parishes in every detail. But when our individual faith wavers, we can gain strength from the Holy Spirit at work in the midst of a community of faith.
DISCUSS | By Father Dan Kroger, OFM
In the first reading (Acts 4:32-35), how is the community of believers described?
What did they do?
Did they share everything?
How are those who believe in Jesus described in this week's second reading (1 John 5:1-5)?
What is the victory that conquers the world?
According to the Gospel (John 20:19-31), how did the appearance of Jesus to the disciples in the upper room take place?
What did Jesus tell the disciples?
Who was absent when Jesus appeared to the disciples in the upper room? Hint: He is called the “twin.” How can we say he is the twin of all who hear the Gospel of John?
A dove is a symbol of peace. Go online and search for instructions on how to make origami doves.
Have everyone in your family write out a list of what peace means to each of them. Post them somewhere that everyone can see.
Look up and try to say the word peace in different languages. For instance, peace in Italian is "pace."