It is certainly very strange to be writing about the Sunday after Easter when in a certain sense there has been no Easter Celebration here at Saint Mary's. The intense days of Holy Week from Palm Sunday through the Easter Vigil and on to Easter Sunday have not taken place as they usually do. Gathering in front of the flat screen to unite ourselves in prayer with either Cardinal Seán at our Cathedral in Boston or with Pope Francis in Saint Peter's Square in Rome may help our inner being and spiritual self, but it simply does not take the place of physically coming to our holy ground and lifting up our hearts and souls to our God who has loved us.
Many people are seeking to find spiritual purpose and meaning in these most confusing and difficult days. Although we do not fear Roman overlords or temple authorities, we are struggling with questions of belief, doubt, purpose, meaning, church-going, God, and faith. In a sense, we each may name it differently, but belief at this time is a struggle to some degree for everyone. We need to remind ourselves of the church's truth that to doubt is to believe, never to doubt is never to believe. We hold and believe that Jesus lived, died, and rose from the dead for us; we also cherish and hold that this belief is precious and given to us by God's grace. Finding grace in these days may be a struggle, but if we look, we will find it. Much like the Gospel of today when Thomas has to look to be able to believe, we also must look to be able to believe. Our scriptural readings help us this week to live through these unsettling and difficult days.
We learn from the Acts of the Apostles, originally called the "Writings of the Apostles," that Jesus' followers went and told the story of Jesus with courage and strength. Although they did not deeply understand what all of it meant, they believed. Because they shared as best as they were able, others came to believe. People found in the stories and words of the Apostles not only life and meaning but also purpose and mission. Indeed these are goals that all of us seek, sometimes knowingly and most of the time unknowingly. In the second reading, which is from Saint Peter's first letter, we are reminded that to be a believer is not always easy. Belief was seen in various and often contradictory ways. Some believed with dramatic words and actions, others by quietly living a life of meaning and purpose.
In our Gospel, the author John starts his story with a lot of detail. This helps to emphasize the reluctance and struggle of Thomas in believing that Jesus is risen. We also struggle at times in our lives with this belief of the Risen Lord. We come to believe, but it is not easy. Much like Thomas, we prefer and want to see, if we are to believe.
In these present set of days, we can in many, many ways see the work and power of our Resurrected Lord in those who are working as first responders, medical personnel, essential workers such as supermarket workers, pharmacy workers, cooks, cleaners, food deliverers from restaurants, utility workers, and also emergency service personnel — and in addition many more people in quiet and unseen ways. The Risen Christ is helping us through others.
The miracle of the Resurrection of Jesus is witnessed by the miracle of help that others give to us now. The tomb of Jesus is empty, but his power and grace are among us in the actions and help of others. The tomb is empty because Jesus has gone before us and is found in those
who are helping all of us at this present moment.