Sunday, April 15, 2012

Easter 2

Readings: Acts 4:32-35; 1 John 5:1-6; John 20:19-31

Thomas said he wouldn’t believe
until he saw the body.
And who can blame him;
it seems, after all,
a pretty incredible story.
Thomas said he wouldn’t believe
until he touched the body of Jesus
with his own hands,
saw its wounds,
put his fingers in the nail holes,
put his hand into the wound in his side.
Thomas said he wouldn’t believe
unless there were some way
in which he could experience for himself
the concrete presence of the risen Christ.

Thomas said he would not believe it,
and who can blame him?
Why should we believe something
without at least some evidence?
Why should we believe
not only that death could not defeat Jesus,
but that his very body itself was raised to life?
If his body still lives, show it to me.

In the Gospel today,
Jesus gives Thomas what he asks for:
“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.’”
And Thomas responds
with one of the boldest confessions
of faith in Jesus
in the entire New Testament:
“My Lord and my God!”

So much for Thomas;
he got what he asked for.
But what about us?
Jesus said, “Blessed are those
who have not seen and have believed.”
And yet, we still want to see;
we still want something tangible
to make this incredible claim more credible.
If Jesus is truly risen, then where is his body?

“The community of believers
was of one heart and mind,
and no one claimed
that any of his possessions was his own,
but they had everything in common. . . .
There was no needy person among them.”

Among the first disciples in the city of Jerusalem
the new life of the risen Jesus was palpable
in their love for each other,
in the concrete actions that showed that love,
in their unity of heart and mind.

If Jesus is truly risen, then where is his body?
At Corpus Christi parish in Baltimore Maryland
people give many hours of their time
planning liturgies,
toiling over budgets,
preparing music,
distributing food,
taking communion to the sick and shut in.

If Jesus is truly risen, then where is his body?
At Corpus Christi parish in Baltimore Maryland
people gather to pray
for themselves and for the world;
they sing their songs of praise
to the God of life;
they initiate children and adults
into Christ’s family;
they take, bless, break and share
Christ’s Eucharistic body and blood;
they mourn with each other in sorrow
and rejoice with each other in gladness.

I do not mention these things
in order to flatter you.
We all know that we,
both as individuals and as a community,
are far from perfect,
that we often fail to be a clear sign
of the dying and rising of Christ,
that we can be as petty or ill-tempered
or lazy or selfish as anyone else.
Sometimes it takes an act of faith
to believe that we are
what our name proclaims:
Corpus Christi, the body of Christ.
But our faith tells us that by God’s grace
we are that risen body,
that in our best moments
the Spirit of truth finds a way
to bear witness through us
to the truth that Jesus Christ is truly risen,
that his body lives.
And not only in us,
but in the many members of Christ’s body
throughout the world.

Like Thomas, the world will only believe
if it can see the risen Christ for itself.
St. Thomas Aquinas said,
“nothing shows the truth of the gospel better
than the love of those who believe”
(Super Io. cap. 17 lec. 5 no. 2241).
So let us seek to love one another,
let us open our hearts to the Spirit
who can make of us that risen body,
so that the world might see,
so that the world might believe,
that Christ is truly risen.