Gospel of Sunday 16 April: John 20, 19-31
John 20, 19-31, II Sunday of Easter A: Jesus Appears to His Disciples
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
John 20, 19-31: Jesus Appears to Thomas
24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.
25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 20, 19-31: The Purpose of John’s Gospel
30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.
31 But these are written that you may believe[b] that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (www.buonabibbiaatutti.it).
Today I share with you a brief meditation on the Gospel, with particular reference to the theme of mercy.
APPARITIONS TO THE DISCIPLES: 20, 19-29
While Matthew and John 21 place the first apparition of the Risen Lord in Galilee, John 20, like Luke and Mark 16, places it in Jerusalem: the outline is the classic one of the apparition narratives:
(a) miserable situation of the disciples (v. 19);
b) apparition (v. 19);
c) greeting (v. 19);
d) recognition (v. 19);
e) command (vv. 21-23).
In contrast, the account of Thomas (20:24-29) is dramatisation of the theme of doubt.
v. 19: – the first after the Sabbath (cf. v. 26): liturgical reference;
v. 22: – he breathed: perhaps a trace of an ancient ordination rite;
v. 25: the simple bodily seeing (blepein: v. 15) becomes scrutinising gaze (theorein: vv. 6.12.14), until it becomes understanding in faith (horan: vv. 20.25);
v. 29: it is the only macarism (= beatitude) in John’s Gospel, together with 13.17.
The gifts of the Risen One
The gifts of the Risen One are not only for the Apostles, but for all believers (Lk 24:33):
(a) peace and joy (Rev 19:7; 21:3-4);
b) mission: Christians are a people of envoys;
c) the Holy Spirit (14:26; 16:7): it is prophetic consecration (17:18-19), it is new creation (Gen 2:7; Wis 15:11; Eze 37:4-5), it is the baptism of disciples (3:5)
d) the power to forgive (Is 22:22; Mt 16:19; 18:18): not only the ‘sacramental’ forgiveness, but the mutual forgiveness (Mt 6:12; 18:22) and reconciliation of the world (Mk 16:15-16; Lk 24:47; Ac 3:19; 1 Jn 1:7, 9; 5:16).
Faith in the Resurrection
In John 20, we have four examples of Faith in the Resurrection: the beloved disciple, Mary of Magdala, the disciples, Thomas: but “Blessed are those who, though they have not seen, will believe” (v. 29).
The day of the Lord
Christians, aware of the centrality of the Resurrection, come together to celebrate it on its weekly recurrence (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2): it is a clear departure from Judaism, and an underlining of the fact that in the Sunday Liturgy one encounters the Risen Lord (Rev 1:10).
The purpose of the Gospel is Christological and missionary-soteriological: “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that, believing, you may have life in his name” (Jn 20:31).
Signs and Faith: believing in the Bible
“Jesus, in the presence of his disciples, did many other signs that were not written in this book. But these have been written so that you may believe” (Jn 20:30-31): by now, the sign given to us to believe is only Holy Scripture (Dei Verbum n. 4; 21).
“It is not written that Thomas put his finger, but that he said, ‘My Lord and my God!'”
Recognising in the stigmata the love experienced by Jesus, Thomas makes the highest and fullest confession of Faith in all the gospels: Jesus is Lord, Jesus is God. That is why whoever sees Jesus, sees the Father (cf. Jn 14:9); that is why Jesus is the exegesis of the God that no one has ever seen nor can see (cf. Jn 1:18); that is why Jesus is “the Living One” (Lk 24:5) for ever.
Thomas is certainly not a model, although we can recognise ourselves in him.
That is why Jesus says to him: “Blessed are those who, without having seen, come to believe”. It is by knowing the love experienced by the Crucified One that one begins to believe: miracles and apparitions do not give us access to true faith.
Only the word of God contained in the holy Scriptures, only the love of Jesus of which the Gospel is the proclamation and narration (“written sign”, as the Gospel closes), only being in the space of the community of the Lord’s disciples, can lead us to faith, making us invoke Jesus as “our Lord and our God” (E. Bianchi).
Good Mercy to all!
Whoever would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some in-depth analysis, please ask me at firstname.lastname@example.org.