Thomas, the twin, gets a pretty poor press as the one who refused to believe Jesus had risen until he had seen for himself the wounds and touched the marks left by the nails. We find out from the gospel reading that this is exactly what the other disciples had had the opportunity to do on that first Easter Sunday, when they were gathered in that room with doors locked for fear of the Jews. They had already been told by Mary Magdalene that Jesus was alive, yet when they first saw him in Lukeís version of the event they thought he was a ghost. Jesus in speaking to Thomas may well have been speaking to all the disciples when he said: Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. It is to us that the second part of that statement is addressed. We have not seen, and yet we are here because we have been drawn into the gospel story and want to embrace its message of hope and peace.
The disciples were gathered together on both occasions, that is, with and without Thomas, behind closed doors. The world outside those doors was not safe for them. Their leader had been put to death and it must have occurred to the disciples that there were those who wanted to do the same to his followers. In this dangerous time the Christians met together on Sundays and kept the outside world at a distance. But despite the fact that the doors were locked Jesus appeared amongst them. In the midst of the danger and anxiety his message was simple. Peace be with you. Looking at the world around us we are aware of the sorry state of present day Jerusalem, where civilians going about their daily business are at risk from suicide bombing and are caught up in the military response. Our own vulnerability is underlined by the events of last September, making the world a frightening and dangerous place. But as we are gathered we know Jesus is in our midst, and he extends this message of peace to us, a message strengthened by the knowledge that he has gone before us and experienced the worst of what could happen. In his resurrection we are given, in the words of Peter, new birth into a living hope, and through faith in Jesus, hope and peace will always succeed over doubt and suffering.
It sounds like a happy ending, Jesus conquers death, brings peace, and they all lived happily ever after, but actually this was really the beginning, for Jesusí next words were ĎAs the Father has sent me, I am sending you.í For ourselves, through faith we have been saved, although we suffer trials that test our faith. But Christís work in the world must be carried out through us. In a version of the words of Theresa of Avila, Christ has no body now on earth but ours, no hands but ours, no feet but ours, ours are the eyes through which to look at Christís compassion for the world. Ours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good and ours are the hands with which he blesses us now. So we are called to bring Christís peace to the world. Thomas and the disciples did not truly believe until they had seen Jesus and touched his wounds. Yet in order that the message of his gospel is spread amongst all people we have to convince them of Christís identity and achievement so that they too can be brought to faith. It was the disciplesí experience of the wounded body of Christ that brought them to belief. For the world today we are the wounded body of Christ. It is going to be from the way we treat each other and the people we come into contact with, by being able to forgive each other and accept forgiveness, support each other and accept support, from the way in which we are able to bear suffering and hardship and still show the inner peace that comes from faith, it is through the way in which we are able to live the life that Jesus calls us to live, that others will be able to see his body in action in the world and come to believe for themselves and share in his salvation.