When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then 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.”
When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told 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 in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Can we see ourselves in Thomas? Perhaps returning to the garden, the way people visit familiar places after a loved one has died. Wandering back to the hill to face the terror and fear from Good Friday. Or, perhaps revisiting the tomb, to the emptiness of that morning.
Like Thomas, if we are honest, it can be so difficult to believe that Jesus has risen amid the chaos of the world or in the travails of our daily lives. “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
The Gospel writers go to great lengths to share with us that the path from Easter night to the bold faith of the Acts of the Apostles is not an easy one. Not only for Thomas but for all the disciples. And, for us too.
—Fr. Mike Bayard, SJ, is the Socius of the USA West Province of the Society of Jesus.
Loving and gracious God,
help my unbelief especially in the face
of my fears, anxieties and terrors of the night.
May I touch the nail marks of the Risen Jesus
and place my hand in his side only to find your solace
and an invitation to new life in you.
—Fr. Mike Bayard, SJ