RCL Easter 2
Acts 2:14a 22-32, Psalm 16, 1 Peter 1:3-9, Saint John 20:19-31

On this the Eighth Day of Easter, we have a Gospel that occurs on the Eighth Day after the Resurrection. There is no wonder at the Church’s decision to proclaim this Gospel on this Day every year.

The disciples are gathered together in their usual place, where they were gathered a week earlier when Thomas was not with them, and today Thomas is with them. Jesus appears to them for the second time and shows Thomas his hands and his side, where the nails and the spear had been hammered and thrust, and Thomas believes. Having been absent from them at Jesus’ first appearance, Thomas disbelieves the disciples’ report of Jesus’ appearance. And so, Jesus appears again and gives Thomas what he needs to believe.

Saint John’s Twentieth Chapter specifies the process whereby four followers of Jesus come to believe that Jesus has been raised. And the process of each of them instructs us how we may come to believe.

You remember how John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, and Peter have a footrace to the empty tomb. John arrives first but does not enter. Peter arrives and enters. John follows Peter in and believes. They return to their homes.

The process is a little more complicated for Mary Magdalene and Thomas. Mary stands weeping outside the tomb as Peter and then John enter. They leave, and Mary remains outside when Jesus approaches her. She thinks he is the gardener, and Jesus speaks her name. She recognizes him.

Thomas, who was not with the disciples for Jesus’ first appearance to them, tells them he will need to see the mark of the nails and to put his finger there and his hand in Jesus’ side in order to believe.

In every point Jesus accommodates Thomas. There is nothing that John, Peter, Mary, and Thomas need to believe that is withheld from them. I believe that Jesus gives to each of us what we need to believe. I think that is the theme of Saint John’s Twentieth Chapter. God gives us what we need to believe.

I would say to you also that the disciples are not out looking for Jesus. They are not singing, “My sweet Lord…I really want to see you.” They are shut up, fearful of being out of doors—what happened to Jesus could happen to them for following him. They could be next. Peter and John catch on right away. The burial cloths are all they need to see to believe. But Jesus approaches those, Mary and Thomas, whose reason clouds their faith. And he gives them what they need to believe.

The Lord is in a conversation with them, and he provides everything they need to believe that “Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.”[1]

It is enough to believe that Jesus reveals himself to us, for he responds to us that way. That is the witness of the Gospel to us. The words of the Epistle may well apply to us. “Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”[2]

[1] Saint John 20:31.

[2] 1 Peter 1:8=9.