As I slowly moved forward in the afternoon rush hour, the blaring sound of the Emergency Broadcast System startled me. As the National Weather Service detailed the dangerous storm in Ohio, West Virginia and Southwestern Pennsylvania I listened for the locations wondering if I was heading into the storm. A minute later my answer came as I crested the hill and looked towards an ominous sky. Then the lightening flashed out in front of me. A second, more severe, alert came. This time people were being warned to take cover in their homes and to stay away from windows. I said a little prayer for their safety. By the time I took the off ramp, the rain was coming down in sheets and then all of a sudden I couldn’t see anything. Fear and doubt instantly overcame me as I struggled to see where I was going.
Fear and doubt is a critical part of this week’s Gospel. With those emotions in mind let’s join the disciples as they are gathered in the upper room.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “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.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
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. John 20:19-31
Jesus’ death was an unexpected storm in the disciple’s lives. When Jesus died everything the disciples believed in and hoped for was gone! Fear and doubt took hold. Doors were locked. Surely, they wondered, “What now?” It was Jesus’ appearance and words that brought peace to the disciples. Thomas, having not seen Jesus, requires more. His doubt was blinding him in spite of the testimony of the others.
As with the disciples, in times of doubt and fear we too must dwell on Jesus. The difference is that we must do so in faith. “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” This Gospel message reminds us that regardless of what is happening around us our peace must be in He who passed through the storm to end all storms. He did so, “…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.”
Like Thomas, I cried out, "Lord!” and in that instant I passed through the blinding sheets of rain. When I pulled into the parking space as the wind and rain continued to buffet my car I realized to my surprise, that I was at peace. No fear and no doubt.
What a glorious life we live in His name!