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.
Who can’t identify with Thomas – demanding that we see and touch the wounds of Christ before we believe? Yet St. Ignatius taught us how to go to these places in our imagination. We can not force the experience to happen. But we can set the conditions to allow God to profoundly touch our hearts through our imaginations in an utterly personal way. This can be powerfully healing.
In our Sacred Heart Chapel, there is a painting of St. Ignatius and St. Robert Bellarmine gazing intently at Jesus – His sacred heart ablaze with divine love. These two saints never met and lived many centuries after Christ. Yet the artist expresses a deep truth in depicting all three of them together. We can each encounter the heart of Christ in prayerful imagination. This becomes more real than history. Here we can still touch His hand and side and feel His divine mercy touching us.
—J. Michael Sparough, S.J. is a Retreat Master, writer, and Spiritual Director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House outside Chicago. His video blog can be seen weekly at: www.heartoheart.org/Easter
Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within your wounds hide me.
Permit me not to be separated from you.
From the wicked foe, defend me.
At the hour of my death, call me
and bid me come to you,
That with your saints I may praise you
Forever and ever. Amen.
—a favorite prayer of St. Ignatius
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