My Lord and My God…Right?
“The community of believers was of one heart and mind,
and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own…”
(HOLD FOR LAUGHTER)
“…There was no needy person among them,
for those who owned property or houses would sell them,
bring the proceeds of the sale,
and put them at the feet of the apostles,
and they were distributed to each according to need.”
(HOLD FOR LAUGHTER)
Does this sound like your parish? Yeah, I know. Mine either. This week’s first reading, from the fourth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, sounds a bit more like sarcasm than reality. A bit more like a stand up comedy routine than an account of an actual Christian community. It was real though. As real as you and me. This was an account of a group of people who “bought in” to what Jesus and his followers were “selling”. This was a group of people who trusted in Jesus and in His Church. What a concept, huh. At some point, somebody (or a group of somebodys) asked the members of this community to trust, to have faith, to believe. Why would they do it? Why would they give themselves over so completely?
I think a clue can be found in our second reading.
In this passage from the first epistle of John, we hear John speak of love for the ‘one begotten by’ God, Jesus. He continues that the same kind of love that allows for the love of Jesus also allows for the love of the children of God. He then continues and says something crucial to our lives as Christians:
“For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments.”
The Christian community mentioned in the first reading had no problem living together in peace, harmony, and self-giving because of their love of God and (through God) their love of each other. They understood that the laws and commandments of God, that the Apostles were asking them to follow, were given in love and not as a way to control them. This practice of love allowed them to have complete trust and faith in Jesus and His Church. It therefore allowed them to give everything they had to the Church, having faith that this gift was a necessary one for the overall health of the community and that they themselves would never want for anything.
This brings us to the Gospel. Here we have the famous story of Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles, who is perhaps best remembered in history or asking for his doubting. Truth be told, though, Thomas is all of us. There isn’t one of us who has been spared the agony of wondering if Jesus was real. There isn’t one of us who hasn’t secretly hoped for proof that the thing we receive at communion (that looks like a piece of bread) is actually Jesus.
One day, Thomas is being told by his companions that this man they all saw crucified had appeared to them when he was absent. He doubts their story and tells them that before he can believe, he will need proof. A week later, Jesus appears again and immediately addresses Thomas. When Thomas gets the proof he’s after, he immediately acknowledges Jesus with the words, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus then challenges him by asking him if he had come to believe because he had seen Jesus. Jesus continues by saying “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
I think it’s important here to say that Jesus does not turn Thomas away because of the doubting. Jesus loves Thomas. No, he uses the opportunity to invite all of us to a true faith, completely free of worry and doubt. In love, Jesus asks for our trust. Let’s pray for the grace to love Jesus in return and give him our faith and trust. Maybe then we can mirror the example given to us by that early Christian community.