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He is present and among us

Mary Jo Tully
Chancellor, Archdiocese of Portland

April 27, 2014 
Second Sunday of Easter (or Sunday of Divine Mercy)
Acts of the Apostles 2:42-47
1Peter 1:3-9
John 20:19-31

There are times when even the most faithful person feels like the Thomas of today’s Gospel. For the most part, we tend to think that Thomas failed to trust Jesus but I suspect that was only partially true. Thomas was not with the other disciples when Jesus appeared to them. When they talked about the Lord’s appearance, Thomas did not believe them. I suspect that part of Thomas’ lack of faith was about his relationship with the disciples.

There have been times when most of us have been like Thomas, not content with the testimony of someone who assures us that Jesus is in the midst of his Church. We think we need Jesus himself to announce loudly that he is among us. This was particularly true when my mother died—unexpectedly, tragically, and too early. In those days, we gathered at the funeral home and told stories. We laughed and we cried much like the disciples in the upper room. We assured one another that life is not taken away—it is changed. With all our hearts we announced that we believe in the resurrection! Don’t we celebrate Easter? Don’t we announce our faith each Sunday at the Creed?

There is little doubt that faith in the resurrection is intrinsic to what Catholics believe. But, for each of us, there are times when we need to rely on the strong faith of others. It is an empty time…but it ends. It ends with the same experience that Thomas had. It ends with the realization that the one we thought we had lost is with us still…in a new way, with a new sort of presence. This is not the resurrection but it is clearly an echo, a hint of what is to come—given, I believe, so that we will be prepared when we meet again.

The Gospel of the day ends with the words: “Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book.” He is still doing those signs and the presence of those we have lost is one of them.
Another sign is the believing community itself. The presence of the Risen Lord in the Church is the place where God meets us. The Church is the place where we encounter God through Jesus Christ. Then we become the sign of Christ to the world…witnesses to the resurrection.

Jesus is present in is Church through every generation, bestowing the peace of reconciliation with God. The Readings in today’s liturgy and our presence there is an announcement that faith in the resurrection is possible without a personal direct encounter with the Risen Lord. This is a joyful season—a time when we are reminded even by nature that there is a resurrection. Our “alleluias” ring through the community as we joyfully announce our faith.

Related Links:
• Liturgical readings

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