THE APPEARANCE OF the Risen Jesus to the disciples today reveals the praxis for living the new life of the Resurrection.
It begins with getting rid of fear. The darkness of the evening and the locked doors of the place both highlight the degree to which the disciples’ lives are enshrouded by fear. But the Lord emerges from the darkness and penetrates the locked room to demonstrate the futility of fear. The same divine force that causes the stone at the tomb to roll away permits the Risen Jesus to pass through human obstacles and defenses. The grace of the Resurrection causes human fear itself to cower. To live in the Resurrection means to embrace that saving truth and not to give in to the tyranny of our feelings.
When Jesus appears, he shows them his hands and his side so that the disciples will derive all their power from the Passion. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross remains the source of identity and strength for every Christian. The wounds of the Risen Jesus reveal, not the shame, but the redemptive power of suffering.
Three times Jesus says: “Peace be with you.” His words invite his disciples to embrace divine Providence. For the peace of the Resurrected Christ is the solace that comes from submitting serenely to God's will at work in our life, no matter how it may unfold from moment to moment. It is a gift of peace that the world cannot give.
The Lord breathes on them the power of the Holy Spirit and sends them forth to be instruments of mercy. Experience of the Resurrection is not a private or exclusive affair. Such personal communion with the Risen Lord compels us to share the same mercy that restores us with others through acts of forgiveness.
The absent Thomas comes to learn of the Lord's Resurrection because the other disciples keep telling the good news: “We have seen the Lord!” The life of every Christian in word, deed and example must proclaim the truth of the Gospel. Our ardent evangelization draws others out of their reluctance, cynicism, and disillusionment and into the presence of Jesus.
The Risen Lord directs Thomas to probe the marks in his hands and side. In the same way, Jesus calls us to touch his woundedness when we encounter it in our neighbor. The fervor and generosity with which we show divine compassion testifies to our own transformation in the Resurrection. Thenew life of Christ commits every disciple to be life-giving and healing to those most hurting and in need.
We are confident that we have put into action all that the Resurrection offers when we live by faith. Like Thomas, every shred of obstinacy and doubt is replaced by the heartfelt confession: “My Lord and my God!” That is what we confess as we behold the eucharistic host in elevation. Our vibrant,energetic faith rooted in the name of Jesus and united in the Church in turn helps the rest of the world to believe and to “have life in his name.”
Father Cameron, a Register contributing editor, teaches homiletics at St. Joseph Seminary, Yonkers, N.Y.