Appearances to the Disciples

Posted by Thaddaeus

John 20: 19-31

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you."  When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.  The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you."  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."  Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,

was not with them when Jesus came.  So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord."  But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."  Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them.  Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you."  Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe."  Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!"  Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."  Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book.  But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.


Background:  On the evening following the morning of the Resurrection, where the ten disciples are assembled without Thomas, Jesus comes and stands in their midst and says, “Peace be with you.”  He shows them his hands and his side.  Recall, on the cross, blood and water flows from his side.  Blood shows that the lamb has truly been sacrificed for the salvation of the world.  Water is the symbol of the Holy Spirit.  It shows that the sacrifice is a rich source of grace.  Many early Church Fathers interpret the water an blood as symbols of Baptism and the Eucharist, and these two sacraments as signifying the birth of the Church, which is born like a second Eve from the side of Adam.  The Church is born when Jesus breathes on them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven, and whose sins you retain are retained.”  The power to forgive sins is exercised by the Church in the sacrament of reconciliation.


Sunday of Divine Mercy:  It seems no accident that this traditional reading for the second Sunday of Easter now coincides with the Feast of Divine Mercy.  The Feast of Divine Mercy was instituted by Saint Pope John Paul II in 2000.  Five years later, he died on this date.  In 2011, he was beatified on this Feast.  And, in 2014 he was canonized on this date.  He is called the Divine Mercy Pope.  The divine floodgates are wide-open on Divine Mercy Sunday.  It is a special feast of atonement for people to receive forgiveness of our sins.  Not only forgiveness, but a plenary indulgence for the guilt and punishment of our sins.  It is as if we are baptized again.   A straight ticket to heaven.  Jesus promises that the soul that would go to Confession and receive Holy Communion, on that day, would receive the total forgiveness of all sins as well as all punishment due sins.  With so much uncertainty in the world, you must take advantage of this grace.