The Lord Added To Their Number
by Fr.Michael Platts O.P.
30 March 2008
Second Sunday of Easter (Low Sunday) (A)
And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
And fear came upon every soul; and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
1 Peter 1:3-9
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls.
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "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."
Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "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." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.
Fr. Michael Platts preaches on the spread of the faith through the power of the Spirit and the life of the Church.
St Paul tells us, in his First Letter to the Corinthians,
I want you to understand that on the one hand no one can be speaking under the influence of the Holy Spirit and say 'Curse Jesus', and on the other hand, no one can say, 'Jesus is Lord' unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
So the work of the Spirit is to create faith in Jesus. Intellectually, St Thomas was unable to accept that Jesus had risen from the dead. He could neither receive nor comprehend this truth. But the Spirit -- breaking down the barriers of prejudice, scepticism and unbelief in Thomas's mind -- gave him the spiritual understanding to truly see the Lord, and to profess his faith in Jesus as Lord and God.
The Greek word used by St John for 'to see' denotes a sense of spiritual understanding beyond intellectual understanding.
To create faith, the Spirit works in a mind that is searching for truth, and is willing to accept it and submit to it. But the Spirit also uses the witness of the believing community to create faith. The faith of the disciples had a powerful influence on Thomas, inclining him to believe. His coming to faith, therefore, was not just a singular experience but something that took place within the new-born Church.
The Spirit, working through the disciples' witness to the resurrection, and through Thomas's desire for truth, created a living faith in that once-doubting Apostle.
The same principle can be seen in the description of the growth of the Church in today's first reading. As people saw the faith of the believing community and the radical changes that this faith brought about in them, the regarded them with goodwill. They were inclined to believe their message.
The Spirit led many of them into living faith. When a body of believers truly believes, others also will be brought to faith through their witness.
In confessing Jesus as 'My Lord and my God', Thomas made the most profound declaration about the person of Christ -- that he is truly God. He accepted Jesus as Lord and submitted his life to Christ's lordship. As we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus we can use Thomas's words to declare our faith and submit our lives to him more deeply.
In addition we can ask the Holy Spirit to deepen our spiritual understanding as we open our minds more completely to the witness of scripture and the Christian community. We can witness confidently to Christ's resurrection, knowing that the Spirit will use our words and witness to bring others to faith, just as Thomas was brought to faith.
About the Preacher:Fr. Michael Platts is Chaplain to the Dominican Sisters at Rosary Priory in Bushey.
This article is reproduced with the Permission of Electronic Publishing House of the English Province of the Order of Preachers,the Dominicans
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