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During the season after Easter, we read a lot of amazing stories about the appearance of Jesus to the disciples and others. The appearance of the Risen Lord made the disciples courageous fishers of men. Our challenge during this Easter season is to have the same experience of Easter joy that the disciples had. How do we prepare for this?
The evangelists give us many accounts of the appearances of the risen Lord. First he appeared to Mary Magdalene, to the disciples on the way to Emmaus, on the sea shore and in the closed room. Jesus greeted them not simply asking “how are you?” or “hello,” but “peace be with you.” This is a very appropriate greeting for Christians when they meet. Our Islamic brethren around the world greet “assal m alaikum.” This means peace be upon you or peace and health. Jesus teaches us to wish peace to others before we ask anything else.
Mary Magdalene and the disciples couldn’t recognize the risen Jesus. Sometimes they recognized him during the breaking of the bread. We read in the Gospel of John 20 they gathered together on Sunday, the first day of the week. All the disciples were gathered for Sunday service but Thomas wasn’t there. Where was Thomas? You can see that Thomas is like one of these modern-day Christians who do not go to church regularly on Sundays. Such people are not there in church when Jesus comes to meet his people and to strengthen them in their faith. As a result, they remain with their doubts. Initially, all the disciples had their doubts. But because of their encounter with the risen Lord in Sunday worship their doubt was turned into faith. Thomas missed that experience.
But, being a wise man, Thomas resolved never again to miss the Sunday gathering of believers. As the gospel continues, “A week later (i.e. the following Sunday) his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them Jesus came and stood among them (John 20:26). “This time Thomas had his own share of the resurrection experience. Immediately his doubt changed into faith and he fell down and worshiped, saying, “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28)
Let us ask ourselves, what if Thomas had stayed away from church saying, “Prove it! Prove it to me that Jesus is risen and then I will come.” Would it be possible to prove it to him by arguments alone? Sometimes the best argument we can give to someone out there who is in doubt and does not go to church is a sentence in three words: “Come and see.”
When they go to Sunday worship, Jesus will speak to them and touch their heart and open their eyes during the breaking of the bread and then they will doubt no longer, but believe. During this Easter season let the greeting of the risen Lord “peace be with you” echo in our ears.
Peace and Joy!
Father Kavungal Davy, CMI, is pastor of St. John Catholic Church in Carrollton, Ky.