Let Him Easter in us,
Be a dayspring to the dimness of us,
Be a crimson-cresseted east.
Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.
The Wreck of the Deutschland
When the Lord of the world comes and undertakes the slave’s task of foot-washing – which is an illustration of the way he washes our feet all through our lives – we have a totally different picture. God doesn’t want to trample on us but kneels down before us so as to exalt us. The mystery of the greatness of God is seen precisely in the fact that he can be small… Only when power is changed from the inside, and we accept Jesus and his way of life, whose whole self is there in the action of foot-washing, only then can the world be healed and the people be able to live at peace with one another. Pope Benedict XVI
Conversion and baptism immerse us in Christ’s Easter mystery, and involve us in his death and resurrection. Easter calls for the reborn, the resurrected; the rebirth and the resurrection of which baptism is not only the beginning, but also offers the grace for its progressive and complete fulfillment.
As Christians we are never finished being converted, reborn and risen again; the condition of our life on earth is the tension of a continual regeneration in Christ, conforming us more and more to his death and resurrection.
A Christian’s striving is never ended; we ourselves says the Apostle who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for the redemption (Romans 8:23). We shall have full and complete redemption only in heaven, for only then shall we be assimilated in an enduring way into Christ’s paschal mystery and die to sin, once for all. . .and be alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:10-11).
Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD
A few thoughts of Pope Benedict on the meaning of the Resurrection:
Until that moment Christ’s death remained almost an enigma, whose outcome was still uncertain. In the Pascal mystery the words of Scripture are fulfilled, that is, this death realized “according to the Scriptures” is an event that carries a “logos” in itself, a logic: Christ’s death testifies that the Word of God became human “flesh,” human “history,” without reserve. How and why this happened, we understand from the other addition Paul makes: Christ died “for our sins.” With these words the Pauline text takes up the prophecy of Isaiah contained in the fourth song of the Servant of God (cf. Isaiah 53:12). The Servant of God — the song says — “surrendered himself to death,” bore “the sins of the world,” and interceding for the “guilty” was able to bring the gift of reconciliation among men and between men and God: his is a death therefore that puts an end to death; the way of the cross leads to the resurrection.
In the verses that follow, the Apostle pauses over the Lord’s resurrection. He says that Christ “rose on the third day according to the Scriptures.” Again: “according to the Scriptures!” Not a few exegetes see in the expression “[he] rose on the third day according to the Scriptures” a significant reference to Psalm 16, where the Psalmist proclaims: “You will not abandon me in the netherworld, nor let his faithful one undergo corruption” (16:10). This is one of the texts of the Old Testament that was cited by early Christians to prove Jesus’ messianic character. Since, according to the understanding of Judaism, corruption began after the third day, the word of Scripture is fulfilled in Jesus who rises on the third day, that is, before corruption set in. St. Paul, faithfully transmitting the doctrine of the Apostles, stresses that the victory of Christ over death happens through the creative power of God’s Word. This divine power brings hope and joy: this is the definitive liberating content of the Easter revelation. God reveals himself and the power of the trinitarian love that annihilates the destructive forces of evil and death in the events of Easter.
And with humble confidence let us pray: “Jesus, who, rising from the dead, anticipated our resurrection, we believe in you!”
April 19, 2009
… the proverbial scene of the doubting Thomas that occurred eight days after Easter is very well known. At first he did not believe that Jesus had appeared in his absence and said: “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe” (Jn 20: 25).
Basically, from these words emerges the conviction that Jesus can now be recognized by his wounds rather than by his face. Thomas holds that the signs that confirm Jesus’ identity are now above all his wounds, in which he reveals to us how much he loved us. In this the Apostle is not mistaken.
As we know, Jesus reappeared among his disciples eight days later and this time Thomas was present. Jesus summons him: “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing” (Jn 20: 27).
Thomas reacts with the most splendid profession of faith in the whole of the New Testament: “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20: 28). St Augustine comments on this: Thomas “saw and touched the man, and acknowledged the God whom he neither saw nor touched; but by the means of what he saw and touched, he now put far away from him every doubt, and believed the other” (In ev. Jo. 121, 5).
The Evangelist continues with Jesus’ last words to Thomas: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (Jn 20: 29). This sentence can also be put into the present: “Blessed are those who do not see and yet believe”.
In any case, here Jesus spells out a fundamental principle for Christians who will come after Thomas, hence, for all of us.
It is interesting to note that another Thomas, the great Medieval theologian of Aquinas, juxtaposed this formula of blessedness with the apparently opposite one recorded by Luke: “Blessed are the eyes which see what you see!” (Lk 10: 23). However, Aquinas comments: “Those who believe without seeing are more meritorious than those who, seeing, believe” (In Johann. XX lectio VI 2566).
In fact, the Letter to the Hebrews, recalling the whole series of the ancient biblical Patriarchs who believed in God without seeing the fulfilment of his promises, defines faith as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11: 1).
The Apostle Thomas’ case is important to us for at least three reasons: first, because it comforts us in our insecurity; second, because it shows us that every doubt can lead to an outcome brighter than any uncertainty; and, lastly, because the words that Jesus addressed to him remind us of the true meaning of mature faith and encourage us to persevere, despite the difficulty, along our journey of adhesion to him.
A final point concerning Thomas is preserved for us in the Fourth Gospel, which presents him as a witness of the Risen One in the subsequent event of the miraculous catch in the Sea of Tiberias (cf. Jn 21: 2ff.).
On that occasion, Thomas is even mentioned immediately after Simon Peter: an evident sign of the considerable importance that he enjoyed in the context of the early Christian communities.
Indeed, the Acts and the Gospel of Thomas, both apocryphal works but in any case important for the study of Christian origins, were written in his name.
Lastly, let us remember that an ancient tradition claims that Thomas first evangelized Syria and Persia (mentioned by Origen, according to Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History 3, 1) then went on to Western India (cf. Acts of Thomas 1-2 and 17ff.), from where also he finally reached Southern India.
Let us end our reflection in this missionary perspective, expressing the hope that Thomas’ example will never fail to strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Our God.
(Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience 27 July 2006)