As Christians, we are given lots of examples of those who have come before us. Within Scriptures there are two of the disciples, who stand out for me. Peter and Thomas. For me, they portray very human behaviours and traits which we may all be able to relate to. In the lead up to Easter we heard how Peter denied Jesus three times; basically, he was saving his own skin. He saw that Jesus had been taken prisoner and did not want to share His fate. Jesus had foretold this and in essence this needed to happen. (I will come back to this later).
In the Gospel we hear this Sunday; we have Thomas, in the Scripture they say he was known as the twin, but throughout history, because of the incident we hear today, he is known as doubting Thomas. Notice in the text though that Thomas is a man of extremes; initially when he missed the Risen Lord’s first visit, he said he would not believe unless he could see it for himself. He wanted to see the Lord, he wanted to touch the Lord, in here there was a great desire for it to be true; that desire was evident, but there was also doubt. Then when the Risen Lord appeared again, this time with Thomas present, he declared Jesus to be “My Lord and my God”. From doubt to absolute belief.
Again, this needed to happen to help Jesus to help us, when He said to Thomas “You believe because you can see, happy those who have not seen, and yet believe.” Jesus, because He was human and divine, knows people. He knows us, He loves us, and He knew that unless we have good examples to follow then there is the potential that we could be lost. So instead of telling Thomas off for not believing the word of his fellow disciples, Jesus welcomes Thomas; he offers him the proof; the evidence; which he initially demanded.
Touching back on Peter, I believe there are two reasons why he had to endure the three denials. The first is that Jesus did not want Peter to die with Him at that time. He had a mission to complete. The second is that from what we have read, Peter could be quite a strong minded individual, maybe a little bit impetuous. Jesus knew that Peter would have to adapt his normal behaviour, so he gifted Peter this trial to ensure that he would always remember this lesson. Peter was the rock, but Jesus still had to knock off some of the rough edges. Jesus used the three denials to knock off one of those rough edges; that rough edge metaphorically became like a stone in Peter’s shoe, which he could never remove. It probably rubbed away at Peter’s conscience for the rest of his days. Thankfully Jesus forgave him, just as He forgives us.
Also in today’s Gospel we see the institution of the Sacrament of Reconciliation; a much-underused Sacrament. Again, as Christians we see many examples throughout the years of saints who either received the Sacrament frequently and advocated this to others, or we are aware of Saints, who while they were priests here on earth would sit and hear the confessions of hundreds of people a day over several hours, with people travelling for miles to have their confession heard. For those of us who are parents, what type of an example do we set to our children for this Sacrament? I know that as a parent I regret that I did not set the best example.
In the first reading we hear about how the early Church flourished under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and we hear about the tremendous faith of people who thought that if the shadow of a man who knew Jesus could pass over them then they could be cured of their ailments. How does our faith measure up alongside those people?
I started off, by mentioning that as Christians we are blessed with the examples of those who have gone before us, and we are. But now is our time; this is the time when we are called to be the example for others to follow; both now and in the future. People do not become followers of Christ purely because they read about Him in a book or saw a film. They do not become Christians purely because they have heard someone preach. People follow Christ when they are affected by the works of Christ. Today, we are the hands of Christ in this world. We need to ask ourselves; this first week when we have celebrated the Resurrection in 2022; how have I used Christ’s hands? Have I used Christ’s hands to feed the sick? Have I used Christ’s hands to comfort the sick or those close to death? Have I used Christ’s hands to work for peace? Have I used Christ’s hands to pray for the needs of others?
If each and every one of us looks into our hearts then we will know that we can do more; because there is always more to do. By following the examples of those who came before us and setting an example for those who will follow after us, we will be doing our bit to build up God’s Holy Church and at the same time help ourselves to be better prepared for that day when we meet Jesus face to face and He calls us by our name.
Peter and Thomas and the other saints we admire are so relatable to us, because we can see that they were just like us, which means that we can be like them. All we have to do is acknowledge Jesus as Our Lord and God and put our faith into action.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
CCC 448, 641-646: appearances of the risen Christ
CCC 1084-1089: sanctifying presence of the risen Christ in the liturgy
CCC 2177-2178, 1342: the Sunday Eucharist
CCC 654-655, 1988: our new birth in the Resurrection of Christ
CCC 976-983, 1441-1442: “I believe in the forgiveness of sins”
CCC 949-953, 1329, 1342, 2624, 2790: communion in spiritual goods
CCC 612, 625, 635, 2854: Christ the “Living One” holds the keys of death
Please keep in your prayers this week
- The Ukrainian and Russian people, may they be able to live in peace.
- Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- The Year of the Eucharist, that this will lead to a fresh outpouring of love by the people of God for the Body and Blood of Christ.
- Those attending the RCIA course at St Bede’s on Wednesdays.
- Our Confirmation candidates as they continue their preparations.
- For those who have been putting off going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation; that they will have the courage to go and receive God’s forgiveness.
- For those who do not believe in God, that this Easter will open their eyes to the magnificent wonder of our Creator.
- Fr Chris at St Joseph’s who is sick and Fr John & Fr Dominic who are supporting St Joseph’s at this time.