2nd Sunday of Easter
04/19/2009
Readings
Acts 4:32-35
1 John 5:1-6
John 20:19-31

In all the accounts of the appearances of the Risen Lord, a common themes is that Christ’s glorified body is somehow different than it was before the crucifixion. Jesus is not immediately recognizable, even to those who knew him best. It is only after some action of Christ’s that he is recognized: when he calls Mary Magdalene by name or when he breaks the bread for the two disciples heading to Emmaus. The body of Christ has not merely been resuscitated, but has been resurrected and glorified into an entirely transformed body, one which is no longer bound to our space and time.

But in today’s Gospel, John makes clear that there is one aspect of Christ’s body which remains the same: his wounded hands and side. When Jesus first appears to the apostles on the evening of Easter, his first action is to show them his hands and side. This is the eternal mark of the Savior: the scars of our redemption, which will endure for all time as a reminder of his great love for us. Without those scars, there would be no glorified Jesus and no hope for our own resurrection.

This wounded side and hands are also the means by which Thomas comes to believe. The following Sunday Jesus again appears to his apostles, this time with Thomas present as well. Jesus immediately says to his doubting apostle, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe” (John 20:27). The marks of the crucifixion are the proof that it is Jesus and not some phantom or imposter: who else would bear such humiliation with pride? Thomas, who only a week earlier refused to believe the incredible story of the resurrection, now understands completely what has happened and proclaims, “My Lord and my God.” This is the climax of the Gospel of John and in fact the high point of the entire New Testament and Bible. Everything that has happened since the Fall – from Abraham to Moses to David to the Exile – has led to this one moment when Thomas acknowledges the incomprehensible truth that God has become man and died and risen for us. Thomas recognizes through the wounds the true identity of Jesus: he is the divine Lord who has rescued us from sin and death. In the face of that mystery, Thomas realizes that only an act of complete adoration is appropriate.

This Easter season we too need to contemplate the mystery of the wounded, glorified Lord. Nothing in our experience can compare with this reality, and so we can be unwilling to allow for the life-changing, reality-altering implications of the resurrection to impact our lives. So we must ask for the gift of a deep faith that we might be counted among those who are “blessed…who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:29).


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