Ampleforth Abbey

25 February 2018

Low Sunday

St Thomas

Homily preached by Fr Philip Rozario OSB at the Conventual Mass on the Second Sunday of Easter.

During the Easter Octave we have been living in the immediate afterglow of the Resurrection; trying to open our minds and hearts to the transforming power of Christ’s victory over sin and death.  As with his first followers, we are invited to surrender our fears and doubts – not denying them, but placing them against the background of the incredible lengths to which God has shown he will go – and has gone – to seek and rescue human beings.

And we need time to appreciate – with our hearts and not only in our heads – that the drama of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection focuses on every individual human from the dawn of time to the ages still to come. Saving a fallen world is not an abstract idea. It responds to every individual’s unique situation – as though he or she were the only one on this planet.

In these days, the readings have stressed the gulf between our limited expectation and understanding, and the breathtaking scope of God’s saving plan. The disciples on the road to Emmaus, Mary Magdalene at the tomb, Jesus’ followers on the Sea of Galilee – all struggle to grasp a reality far greater than they could have imagined or expected: nothing less than the recreation of the world in Christ.

And it is that recreation which we are shown in today’s Gospel.  If we merely see Thomas as a begrudging doubter – sulking because he has missed an encounter with his Risen Lord experienced by the other Ten, we miss the point. It is, after all, Thomas who said earlier: “Let us go and die with him.” Although like the other disciples he also runs away, he has not lost the wish or the need to follow his master.

In the Genesis account of Adam’s creation, God takes a rib from the sleeping Adam to create Eve, and so begins the earthly community. Here, the creature, Thomas, is allowed to place his hand into Christ’s side. This not only satisfies his demand for proof, it also brings him into immediate contact with the life-giving risen body of Christ. That encounter in a sense ‘recreates’ Thomas – giving him the grace of conversion.  His immediate exclamation: “My Lord and my God” speaks volumes. Thomas no longer lives in his own small world behind locked doors – he is now ready to minister the fruits of the Resurrection to those of his own time. In other words, Thomas is now emphatically – to steal a phrase – ‘fit for mission.’

As we continue our Eastertide journey, let us give thanks for that original mission of which we are the heirs, and pray for grace to respond to our own unique share in the mission of the Church to bring the light of the Risen Christ to those of our own day in a lost and fearful world.