Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Scripture Scribblings -- A Few Sunday Leftovers

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.”
Just a few quick thoughts before school ....

Maybe it's just my "Root for the Underdog" side coming out again, but does anyone else think that Thomas gets a bad rap in this gospel? After all, when Jesus first shows up, he shows them his hands and side; then the disciples rejoice at seeing the Lord. But when Thomas wants to see his marked hands, he gets rebuked by Jesus for his disbelief. How fair is that?

In 2001, I was teaching at a school just ten minutes outside Washington, DC; schools were closed on September 12, and on September 13 we were scheduled to have our opening school Mass. Instead, it shifted to a prayer service, and our chaplain took the opportunity to spread an excellent message to our girls. Using this gospel, he asked them: What was the first thing Jesus said to his followers after his crucifixion? Was it "Go out and get those guys"? Was it "Make 'em pay"? No. The first word Jesus spoke was "Peace." He did not send them out to get revenge; he sent them with a word of peace.

At first profession Saturday, our vocation director gave the reflection on this gospel. She discussed out the far deeper meaning of "Shalom" than simply "peace" ... completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord. So, even more than a greeting of peace, it's actually a blessing.

The bigger thing that struck me about her reflection, though, was her pointing out the locked doors. After all, they're locked in the Upper Room out of fear the first time, then Jesus shows up, blesses them, and sends them out -- heck, he even gives them the Holy Spirit. And yet, a week later, they're still locked in the Upper Room. So I guess I shouldn't feel so bad about all my "kicking and screaming every step of the way" not-so-immediate response to "being sent" ... after all, even the apostles still locked themselves away and avoided for a bit.

Of course, not like the apostles are the best role models all the time ....


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