East2C. Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16. “Many signs and wonders were done at the hands of the apostles.” When Jesus himself walked among the people, he called upon them to believe in him because of the miraculous works he performed. In John 14:11 Jesus said, “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.” The miraculous works of the apostles were signs that God the Father was as work in them.
John 20:19-31. The disciples of Jesus feared the physical violence that the Jewish authorities could inflicted on them as they did to Jesus. Jesus assures them saying, “Peace be with you,” since he was with them. He sends them forth with the divine power of the Holy Spirit to bring his redemption of sins to those whom they find worthy or withhold it from those they find unworthy. Jesus himself will no longer be physically and visibly here; and so he sends them in his place to do accomplish his mission and will in this world. Later Thomas announces that he believes that Jesus’ death on the cross was final and could not possibly be reversed. He was a man firmly grounded in the common sense ways of this world. He was not going to be swayed by what seemed to clearly be nonsense. Jesus could have easily said to Matthew as he did to Peter in Mark 8:33: “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Jesus showed Thomas physical proof of his resurrection in the nailmarks in his body just as he demonstrated to the apostles that he was not a ghost or spirit but a real physical person when he ate the baked fish. When we see physical, material proof, then we have knowledge of that reality. They did not have to believe or have faith in what they did not see with their own eyes. I think that Jesus gave them this knowledge of his resurrection so that no one could reasonably claim that Jesus’ resurrection was figment of their imagination and not a genuinely reality. And so Jesus says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” 1 Peter 1:8a says, “Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him.” This Sunday’s Gospel finishes, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.” The Scriptures are given to us as a divine way to come to know that the love with which the Father loved Jesus may be in us and Jesus himself may be in us. (John 17:26b) The divine revelation that Scriptures make known to us is not so much words or sentences about Jesus but the presence of Jesus his very self in our lives.
Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19. This reading begins, “I, John, your brother, who share with you the distress, the kingdom, and the endurance we have in Jesus,..” As Jesus suffered physical violence so did many of his followers. Persecution for their faith caused them great distress. However, Jesus always accompanied them giving a sense that already they were a part of his kingdom. He gave them the strength to endure through it all. He gives us that same strength in our times of temptations and difficulties. Jesus says of himself, “Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever. I hold the keys to death and the netherworld.” We ask him to protect us by keeping the doors of that world locked for us but rather open the doors to life forever in heaven.