Christ is risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!
In the Gospel appointed for today (John 20:19-31), we can read the story of the two meetings of Jesus with his disciples, after the resurrection. Did you notice that both of these meetings took place in the house when the disciples were gathered and not in each disciple’s house? We know that Jesus meets each disciple, but he met them in a special way when they were gathered for prayer, in the same place. It is important that it was a special place for their meeting and prayer. Jesus came to them in that place and in the time of their prayer. More than that, not only the twelve were present there, but the other followers, too, who accepted him as Messiah.
I started this short talk explaining that today’s Gospel is about two meetings. When the disciples were gathering it was like when today’s congregations are gathering. Not all members are present every time. Some could be away or with other duties.
Do you remember the Gospel appointed for the 5th Sunday of Lent (John 11:1-45)? It was about Lazarus and his raising from the death. The disciples tried to stop Jesus to go close to Jerusalem, because the Jews wanted to kill him, but Thomas had an other idea: “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16b).
When Jesus came to meet his disciples for the first time, Thomas was not there, but the disciples were so happy to let him know that their teacher came to visit them. This time, too, Thomas is behaving in the same way. He spoke out what he feels and thinks: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25c). Because of these words, Thomas is called “Doubting Thomas”, but he is not a doubting apostle. He liked to stay close to Jesus, to hear his stories, parables, teachings. He missed him so much. He needed him back. Jesus answered to his need: “Reach out your hand and put it in my side” (John 20:27c). But the most important word of Jesus is his question for Thomas: “Have you believed because you have seen me?” (John 20:29b). It is evident that none which does not believe in Jesus can’t chose to go to dye with him. Thomas is able. Thomas believed in Jesus, but he was experiencing his absence, his sign of presence.
Since the lock down has been started, I talked with a lot of members of the congregation and other people. This week, I was having a walk, with my wife. We met two parishioners. In the first moment, when we discovered each others, we was almost to forget the guidance for keeping at least two meters between us. We started to walk to each others in order to shake our hands or to share a hug. But we stopped in time and I noticed a shadow of sadness on their faces. We like to be together as members of a congregation. Thomas wanted to be with his master, as his apostle. We need symbols and signs of others presence.
Today, so many people started to speak about the possibility to reduce our social life to the social-media area. Is it our way of life?
Maybe some of us are more puritan than others considering that we do not need to many signs and material presence to be together, but Jesus assumed all the human ways of meeting and being together. This is how he became like us in order to make us like him. In the same way, we need our meeting places as a sign of our identity and belonging, as a family need a shelter, any kind of shelter to express its familiarity. That was what the disciples were doing when Jesus came to them: when Thomas was not there and when he was with them.
Until that time, let’s pray Jesus to come to meet each of us and to give us the time when we will meet him, gathered in our special place of meeting and prayer, our church.
Just let us consider: if the members of a football club want their space, if the members of a social club want their space back, if all other kind of communities want a place were they meet, why shouldn’t we want our meeting space back?
Christ is risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!