11 April 2021 St. Paul Apostle Church 10 AM Fr. James DiLuzio
SHOW ME! CRIED THOMAS ON THAT FIRST EASTER EVENING! It is a fair demand. Rather than call him “Doubting Thomas,” let us call him “Entreating Thomas” – one who calls upon the Lord for blessed assurance.
Indeed, We NEED SIGNS –evidence that Jesus continues to be present to us, strengthening His HOLY SPIRT in us, repeatedly sustaining us in the grace of our Baptisms and strengthening us through our participation in the Sacraments. Indeed, at every Mass we celebrate, we, like Thomas, call out to Jesus: “Show Yourself! Be present to us! Affirm our belief!”
John concludes his Gospel with the assurance that what was “written in this book” will assist us in FAITH and having life to the full.” The Church upholds Jesus is present in reading, sharing, preaching of Scripture. For although the book itself –text on pages—is to be treated with reverence, SIGNS of Jesus as THE WORD incarnate are not in the book but in the PEOPLE as we read it, in the PEOPLE who have shared and continue to share Scriptures with us, the people who first introduced us to prayer, and who pray for and with us still; the people who preach and discuss Scriptures with others with integrity, humility, and an openness to ongoing learning.
Note that Thomas saw Jesus in the company of other disciples/ Only Mary Magdalene and Peter were given private encounters with the Risen Jesus. As for Thomas, so, too, for us: Jesus came to him and to us in the presence of other disciples. This is the pattern of the Church and why Thomas’ story is such an essential part of EASTER and Resurrection Faith.
Let us now explore the gift of MEMORY –and how experiences of Resurrected Jesus require continuity of the past with the present. After all, Thomas recognized the Resurrected Jesus through memory of all he had experienced with Him prior to and including His Passion. Through the gift of hindsight, we too, recognize holy moments in the present–Jesus’ in another person, in a spirit-filled situation. Journey with me, here, now, add your memories to mine, open to say, once again, to Jesus, as Thomas did: “My Lord and My God.”
To this day, Jesus comes alive for me in a recurring image of my Mom reading me children’s versions of bible stories. I can see her now at the edge of my bed, holding the book. I remember particularly the nights she read about Michael the Archangel and his battle with Satan. And then my thoughts flood with the stories of Adam and Eve, the Blessed Mother, The Christmas Story and Jesus’ Passion. I was so deeply intrigued by the stories, the pictures, and my mother’s faith and her demeanor. A warmth wafted over us as she shared the Christmas Story, and, at the age of 7, I cried hearing about the Crucifixion as the reality of the Passion entered more deeply into my consciousness. All signs of Jesus –all “incarnated word” experiences.
I remember another time: the night my father was in the hospital, in danger of losing his sight due to an accident at work. My mother, siblings and I gathered for a family rosary, appealing not only to Mary, Mother of God, and for extra measure, Saint Jude, the faithful one also with the name of Judas among the Twelve.
What about your memories? Your experiences of Jesus? We can get so caught up in the demands of each day, do we recognize how important we take time, like Sunday Mass, and other occasions, to recollect, to reclaim Jesus in our lives? Who taught you prayers? Who prays with you still? Spouse! Friends! Relatives! Are you praying together? This is the way to deepen our relationship with Jesus and others. Time to recognize the people in our lives as reflections of Jesus –the Universal Christ, who daily “comes in the Name of the Lord.” Whatever do we think we are affirming when we pray the Sanctus and every mass: “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts, Blessed is He Who Comes in the Name of the Lord, Hosanna in the Highest!” Jesus came, he arrives now in Word and Eucharist, and continues to appear to us through one another even unto now.
YES, JESUS, SHOW US YOUR FACE! And HE DOES! In our renewal of Baptismal Promises which we will continue to do throughout Easter and in every association, we make with our encounters with Water! Whether quenching our thirst, showering, bathing, and, if you are fortunate enough, bathing an infant—a kind of perpetual encounter with Christmas!
How often have my women relatives fought over who would give a new infant his or her bath—mothers, grandmothers, sisters, sisters-in-law, daughters-in-law. I remember my grandmother running through the house with the bundle of my baby brother in her arms, my mother chasing after her! “I’m giving him his bath!” My mother calling after her: “No! It’s my turn!” Now see in every caregiver Jesus washing the hands and feet of the elderly, the sick and infirm. See him at our feet as we soak our weary paws at the end of the day –all experiences of GOD!
Julian of Norwich was given the gift of seeing in this holistic way. In chapter 9 of the Long Text, she writes: We are all one in love. . . When I look at myself as an individual, I see that I am nothing. It is only in unity with my fellow spiritual seekers that I am anything at all. It is this foundation of unity that will save humanity.
THIS IS HOW JESUS SAVES – with all of us together. ON THIS divine mercy Sunday, we benefit by praying “Lord Jesus, Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on Us! Help us to see that we continue YOU, that YOUR BODY includes OUR BODIES, as we humbly acknowledge that as you express yourself through us, the kingdom expands now and on to eternity.” Like Thomas, we, too, must say, “Jesus, My Lord, and My God!”