"The Lord's Day" Gospel Reflection for April, 19, 2020, Divine Mercy Sunday (John 20: 19-31) Featured
Nicholas Pierlot gives a reflection on John 20:19-31: Jesus appearing to the apostles in the upper room and Thomas' doubt's dispelled.
To assist in this time, St. Therese Institute would like to share some resources to keep your Sabbath day holy.
- Magnificat has made available a free, online subscription to their monthly publication of daily prayer, mass readings, and reflections by saints and pertinent theologians. A free PDF of the Sunday mass readings (using the NAB translation), with reflections, a form of liturgy of the hours, etc. is available at this link: ENGLISH https://us.magnificat.net/free FRENCH https://canada.magnificat.net/
As quoted from their website, Magnificat is:
"... a spiritual guide to help you develop your prayer life, grow in your spiritual life, find a way to a more profound love for Christ, and participate in the holy Mass with greater fervor."
Magnificat is a monthly publication designed for daily use, to encourage both liturgical and personal prayer. It can be used to follow daily Mass and can also be read at home or wherever you find yourself for personal or family prayer."
- Another good resource is Universalis.com. This is a free web resource that contains the Liturgy of the Hours and the daily mass readings with helpful instructions and various service. As well, one can use Canada's lectionary by selecting it in the settings.
It is our hope that these resources may support your life of prayer and devotion.
- First Reading – Acts 2:42-47
- Responsorial – Psalm 117 (118):2-4,13-15,22-24
- Second Reading – 1 Peter 1:3-9
- Gospel – John 20:19-31
John 20:19-31 – Sunday Gospel Reflection – Divine Mercy Sunday
Nicholas Pierlot, Assistant Director of Formation, St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission
April 12, 2020
The central event of the Gospel is Christ’s appearance to the disciples on “the evening of that day” (Jn 10:19). This is the day of the Resurrection. The disciples were huddled in a room for “fear of the Jews.” In the middle of their fear, Jesus arrives, speaks the words “Peace be with you”, and shows them the wounds of his passion. Thomas, called the twin, was absent. When told about Christ’s appearance, he responds with skepticism, “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe” (Jn 20:25). Thomas’s doubt should not be prematurely labeled as irrational. Christ’s resurrection and promise of peace is unprecedented, incredible for Jewish and modern mind alike.
In a recent audience, Pope Francis proposes that modern peace is often defined as “interior serenity”. Though not without some truth, this type of peace is incomplete and therefore often false. The Pax Romana, the inner tranquility of the Roman Empire, was accomplished by countless battles and lopsided treaties. Even inner serenity without obvious conflict is problematic, usually relying on avoiding the plight of our neighbor. Thus, worldly peace is built on the hardship of others. As Thomas mourned in the dark melancholy of Holy Saturday, a few bitter cynicisms about peace and justice likely crossed his mind. In this way, Thomas’ doubt feeds on the tragedy of sin and human misery.
French philosopher and anthropologist Rene Girard illuminates the problem at a still deeper level. In a compelling study, Girard proposes that at the center of every society lies the problem of the scapegoat. When every community inevitably grapples with sin and corruption, they will seek out someone to blame. This is the scapegoat. Most times, this tragically ends in exiling or slaughtering an innocent third party. The Holocaust and Jewish pogroms of the twentieth century are chilling examples of this mechanism in play.
Jesus is the only historical figure who effectively shatters the scapegoat cycle. Rather than remain victim to the mechanism, Jesus conquers death and visits those who first rejected him, his disciples. But there is one curious detail – his wounds remain. St. Bede believed that these wounds were Christ’s victory trophy over death. Christ’s wounds represent his self-emptying love, his resurrection forever rooted in his sacrifice for sinful humanity. The victim becomes the triumphant liberator.
Yet, there is another level of significance. The wounds both refute and remind us of humanity’s sin. Perhaps justly, Christ could have returned with terrifying judgement. Instead, he arrives, offers peace, inviting Thomas to examine his wounds. Putting Thomas’s finger in his open lacerations, he flips the cycle on its head. The scapegoat confronts the sinner, but in a mode of reparation. In doing so, Christ proposes a non-competitive solution, therefore a new peace. This new peace appears in the early Church, where all lived “together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:44-45). By His wounds, Christ’s inaugurates a peace that reorders human relationships, with God, each other, ourselves, and creation.
We now see Thomas in a deeper light. Thomas’ doubt is a wounded response to the privation in worldly peace and the stunning significance of the Resurrection. If Christ is risen, everything has changed. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (Jn 20:29) is a better path, but God uses Thomas’ uncertainty to reveal that Jesus is breaking evil’s power in two. We no longer need to be apprehensive. In history, Thomas proclaims the Gospel farther than any other apostle. This is a fully convinced skeptic.
The question is, are we?
Nicholas Pierlot is the Assistant Director of Formation at St. Therese Institute of Faith and Mission in Bruno, SK, where Sacred Scripture is one of his favourite topics to instruct on. Nick holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Prince Edward Island and M.A. in Catholic Applied Theology from the Maryvale Institute in Birmingham, England. He lives in Bruno with his wife Denise, their daughter Rosé. They are expecting a new addition to the family this summer.
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