Second Second of Easter

WHERE WAS SAINT THOMAS? Every year, on the 2nd Sunday of Easter [once called Low Sunday’ due to last Sunday’s highly festive, ‘pull-out-all-the-stops’ Easter celebration, we always hear the so-called Gospel of ‘Doubting Thomas.’ Where in the world was this Apostle who refused to believe in Christ’s Resurrection until he probed the nail marks in Jesus’ hands with his fingers and put his hand into the Risen Lord’s sword-torn-opened chest wound? [Talk about being brazen!] Scripture does not tell us where ‘The Doubter’ was the week after that first Easter … but it certainly stresses where he was NOT! Thomas was NOT with the other ten Apostles [Judas had already committed suicide] in that Upper Room where they had celebrated the Last Supper!

While what I write now is pure conjecture, I do believe it makes logical sense. Did the Crucifixion so overwhelm Saint Thomas with grief and disappointment, fear and frustration, anger and hopelessness, that he turned into himself and shunned everyone else? Did he foolishly try to process and deal with life’s harsh realities on his own, without any help? He had been so firmly committed to Christ when Jesus took them to Lazarus’ tomb, which we heard a few weeks ago: “So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go to die with him.’” [John 11:16] Had his faith and trust faltered? Or was he simply trying to move on without being part of the fledgling Infant Church?

There are many who have also sadly given up on God and His Church – to their own loss – and ours! Their reasons for leaving are ‘legion:’ the sex abuse scandals; financial misdeeds; personality conflicts; or something “Sister or Father [supposedly] said or did” … some 30, 50, 70 or more years ago! Some simply subscribe to the same notion that Saint Thomas seemingly succumbed to: “I can do it alone; I don’t need any help; I can figure it out on my own …”

Perhaps the primary problem is that: just like the ‘Doubter,’ we do not believe what Saint Thomas eventually – and so proudly – professed: that Christ IS, indeed, risen from the dead – and is TRULY PRESENT in many ways. God speaks to each generation’s questions and issues through His holy word and the Church’s teaching or her 2,000-year reflection on, and application of, Sacred Scripture. The Lord offers support and encouragement through the Christian Community who gathers in His Name. God makes us His own children in Baptism; gifts us with the Holy Spirit in Confirmation; shepherds us through those in Holy Orders; mercifully forgives us in the Sacrament of Penance; strengthens and consoles us in the Anointing of the Sick; and serves as the binding ointment between husbands and wives and the rest of the family in the Sacrament of Matrimony. Who would NOT want to be a part of, and able to cash in on, all of these spiritual blessings? 

SAINT THOMAS: THE FIRST CHRISTIAN TO MISS A SUNDAY EVENT, BUT NOT THE LAST! It seems that, from the start, some Christians were AWOL! While the following quote may sound like something I wrote in a bulletin article or biannual letter to all registered parishioners, it is far from new! “We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works. We should not stay away from our assembly,* as is the custom of some, but encourage one another, and this all the more as you see the day drawing near.” [Hebrews 10:24-25] A footnote * in the revised New American Bible, the English translation used by the Church in the USA, explains what “our assembly” means.

The words, ”our assembly,” are used elsewhere in the New Testament [Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 3:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:2] for the Christian Community which met weekly, on Sunday, as a ‘dress rehearsal’ for the ultimate Judgment Day of the Lord. The Jewish custom to meet on Saturday, based on the Commandment to “keep holy the Sabbath Day,” was ‘altered’ by the Apostles who, authorized by Christ to declare loose or bound, changed it to Sunday. This answers the oft-asked question, “Where in the Bible is the obligation to attend weekly Mass?” The National Eucharistic Revival [see my articles about it on our parish website] is intended to help us ‘recapture’ the weekly Sunday Obligation. Happy Easter!

With God’s love and my prayers,

Very Rev. Michael J. Kreder, VF, KCHS