This weekend’s Gospel on the Second Sunday of Easter (John 20:19-31) begins with a scene from Easter Sunday. Jesus reveals Himself to the apostles in the upper room, but one from the group is missing: Thomas. Fast forward a week, and this time Thomas is present when the Lord comes.For Thomas, Jesus does not just let Himself be seen.  He invites Thomas, who had doubted the testimony of the other apostles, to place his finger in the nail marks and his hand in the wound in Jesus’ side. Thomas could verify for himself that this was truly Jesus alive before him.

Thomas’ doubt and subsequent act of faith — My Lord and my God! — is not for himself alone. It is for the entire Church, through the ages.  As Saint Paul wrote to the Corinthians (1 Cor 15:14.17): “… if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. …  If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” For centuries, the Church has pointed to Saint Thomas and said, “Of course the resurrection of Jesus is hard to believe!” But that does not make the resurrection less real or less true, as Thomas knew.

In Sunday’s First Reading (Acts 4:32-35) the earliest Christians model for all of us the effects of faith in Jesus and the resurrection. They were “of one heart and soul,” while the apostles — Thomas included — “gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus …” It is faith in Jesus that transforms peoples’ lives. The vitality of faith is shown in the effects it has in the Church and on the world. Some people “know” that Jesus rose from the dead, but this is only head knowledge. For them, faith stops there.  There is no assent, no giving oneself over to that truth. The handing over of one’s life, family, livelihood and future to Our Risen Lord is seen as a step too far or unrealistic.  If, however, we do not take that step, the power of the Gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives are thwarted.

In the Second Reading (1 John 5:1-6), the link between faith and assent to God’s work in our lives is made even more explicit. Saint John puts it in terms of the commandments. He writes, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” What are the commandments? To love God and to love the children of God. In other places in the New Testament, it formulated to love the Lord your God and to love your neighbor as yourself. These are things that we have heard many times.  By opening our hearts in faith, they can influence our lives with greater power.

The power of Jesus’ resurrection combined with our act of faith brings us to love. Saint Augustine famously wrote, “My love is my weight: by that I am carried, whithersoever I be carried.” The same is true for us. We will be drawn or carried by what we love. If we believe in God, our love for Him stirs us to go to Him by the movement of our hearts. In that process, our lives are transformed by the power of His resurrection.
Jesus tells each of us the same thing He said to Thomas: “Do not be unbelieving, but believe.” There are many reasons, great and small, that people struggle to believe in Jesus, that He is the Son of God, and that He has risen from the dead. Perhaps this is a good time to ask, like Thomas, for the grace to believe.