"Now it is up to each of us ... to follow Him ... or to turn from Him in doubt."
All the Gospel readings for this past week, including today, are a continuation of the events that took place on that first Easter Sunday. Let's recap.
By evening, the disciples are huddled together in their hiding place and are putting together all the reports that they have received and/or seen. Reports are going throughout the city that the body of Jesus is missing from its burial place near the spot of the crucifixion. The soldiers have been paid off to give reports that it was the disciples that had stolen the body and were hiding it in hopes to continue the cult that had formed.
Now these disciples are trying to figure out what to do next ... trying to make sense out of Mary's sighting in the garden ... of what Peter and John saw, or really ... what they did not see, at the empty tomb ... then there was the report from the two men from Emmaus. You know how reports on TV get mixed up especially when there are too many so-called eye witnesses just trying to get their stories on the air.
Then suddenly ..... Jesus appears!!! His wounds are visible ... marks of a champion warrior. He could have erased them from His glorified body ... but retained them to bare witness that it was indeed He. Fright was on the faces of all ... Jesus cut through with a simple greeting ... "Peace be with you."
The rejoicing was one of tears and shouts ... shouts of joy and relief, things we are afraid of doing in religious ceremonies. Then, as they began to quiet down, Jesus gives them instructions ... instructions to go out and tell all what He had shown and taught them ... all that He had done for them ... all that had happened to which they were witnesses.
Then ... He breathed upon them .... "Receive," He says ... "forgive," He says. The power to forgive sins ... the life?giving Sacrament of Penance is instituted ... no silent confession to God, but oral confession through the ministry of His Church ... that Jesus' visible presence may be seen in and through the hands and voice of the priest or bishop.
Doubts and skepticism are within all of us as to all that has taken place ... the rising ... these reports ... this Sacrament. It is too much for many to comprehend ... just a few days earlier Jesus gives us His own Body and Blood to eat and drink ... something that many today still turn from because they doubt. Then Jesus dies a cruel, humiliating death ... comes back from the dead three days later ... and gives others the power to forgive sins. So much to sort out.
No wonder Thomas could not believe without seeing. Don't we doubt at times? Don't we pass off all this as hysteria or media hype? Do we understand that it is really Jesus we receive in Holy Communion? Or is it just a piece of unleavened and tasteless bread, a wafer? How often I wonder when I see some receive as though it were just that. How often I wonder when I hear those that say they no longer need to go to confession.