“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (John 20:29)

Second Sunday of Easter

Acts 2:42-47

They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one's need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

1 Peter 1:3-9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time. In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

John 20:19-31

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." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained." Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe." Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe." Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

Let me share with you a heart-warming story to start this reflection. It was a sunny and beautiful afternoon during the pandemic. The Greater Toronto Area is closed for non-essential services but citizens can still walk around in their neighborhood while practicing social distancing. So I took a walk around to get some exercise and enjoy the light breeze and the sun. Then a little girl’s tender voice caught my attention, “It’s so warm outside!” There I saw a family of four, the young mother carried a baby in her arms and the dad, a picnic basket. I wondered where they could go for their picnic since the outdoor recreation areas and parks were closed. Anyway, I walked on. Then towards the end of my walk, I saw them again. They were picnicking in the front porch of another house, happily chatting away with people inside who kept the door open. They must be the grandparents of the little girl and the baby. I was so moved by the scene. It was such a creative way to visit people we care and bring hope and warmth, comfort and joy to each other during this difficult time.

In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, we hear the famous story of the “Doubting Thomas”. He refuses to believe that during his absence, Jesus has appeared to his fellow Apostles on the very evening of the day He rose from the dead. Not only does Jesus appear to them, He also sends them “As the Father has sent me” (Jn 20:21). He breathes on them the Holy Spirit that He has promised before His Passion, “I will ask the Father and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever” (Jn 14:16) and from then on, “the Helper, the Holy Spirit … will teach you all things and remind you of all that I have told you” (Jn 14:26). He also gives them the power to forgive sins, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20:23).

After eight days, Jesus appears to the Apostles again, He invites Thomas to “Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe” . Thomas answered Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:27, 28).

What strikes me the most is at the end of the story when Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe”(John 20:29). He is referring to us! To us who have not seen but believe, what St. Peter said in the Second Reading is inspiring, “Although you have not seen [Jesus Christ], you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice […] for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9). Let us strive to live in the way that Jesus teaches us to stay worthy of this outcome of our faith!

This Easter, we rejoice in the Lord’s Resurrection under the shadow of the pandemic, let us unite in prayer to pray for the world and for each other for His mercy and compassion. Jesus greets His Apostles with “Peace be with you” when He first appears to them after He is risen from the dead (Jn 20:19). He is walking with us and greeting us with the same words. Let us be patient, remain faithful in joyful hope and look for opportunities to love our neighbors as we go through this ordeal together.

Posted: April 19, 2020

Shiu Lan

 
Shiu Lan is your Catholic neighbour with a simple faith and likes praying the Rosary. With a B.Sc from the University of Hong Kong, she worked in Information Technology and Project Management before working with joy at home.


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Did you realize that last week, when you encountered a very difficult situation, that you were probably sent there by God? Is it possible that, last week, you were sent to a chaotic situation at work to bring Jesus’ peace? Or you were sent home where there was an argument between your parents so that you could pray for them? Or you were sent an impatient e-mail so you could ask the person what’s bothering them?

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