John 20 19-31 | 2nd Sunday of Easter, Year B
Tangible Proof of the Resurrection
In my opinion, Thomas gets a bad rap. To go down for all of history as “Doubting Thomas,” isn’t really fair. All he wanted was what Jesus gave the other disciples: tangible proof of the resurrection. (I’m guessing we’d all love some of that for ourselves.) Jesus didn’t speak to the others from on high. He showed up in the Upper Room and let them touch his wounds. The whole reason Jesus came to earth was so we could have tangible proof of God’s love.
I think Jesus was actually addressing all of the disciples when He gently chided: “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (v.29). The other disciples had been told of the resurrection by Mary Magdalene, yet they still cowered in the Upper Room, not sure of what to do. It was only when they actually touched Jesus themselves that they were able to fully believe. Thomas was no different.
Which begs the question, are we any different from the twelve? Don’t we also need to touch Jesus?
When I became Catholic, there were a few tenants of Church teaching I didn’t quite buy. One of those issues was the Real Presence. I let them go because my powerful experience in RCIA convinced me that God wanted me to cross the finish line, but I had received the Eucharist every Sunday I could remember and my relationship with God was just fine even though to me, the bread and wine “merely” represented Jesus without actually being Him.
Now, I’m not so sure.
Jesus made two trips to the Upper Room specifically to make sure ALL twelve of His disciples (and probably others who were there as well) could touch Him. He cared that much about each of their believing. I think He cares that much about each of our believing too. There are plenty of people in the world who have to believe without seeing—including many of us this pandemic year—but how much more powerful when we can say with Thomas, “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28) because we have touched Him. If we believe in the Real Presence, we can every time we go to Mass.
Before the pandemic, I was a Eucharistic Minister. It was a job I loved. My favorite words of the entire Mass kick off the Eucharist: “Lord, I am not worthy to be in Your presence, but only say the words, and I shall be healed.” I loved the looks on people’s faces as they received—particularly the very young and the elderly. I loved the reverence that surrounded the meal. I know Jesus is with us at the Eucharist. He’s there because He knows in our humanity, we need tangible proof of His existence. We need it, and so did Thomas, and there’s no shame in that.