2nd Sun Easter B
The Commentaries Summarised
As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.
This Sunday's Commentary
This Sunday’s Gospel, the second half of chapter 20, is the conclusion of the Gospel of John - chapter 21 is an addition. In this Chapter 20, we have the 4 stories of faith in the Risen Jesus. Firstly, there is the Beloved Disciple, who believes when he sees the burial clothes. Then, there is Mary Magdalene who believes when Jesus calls her by name. She desires to cling to him but Jesus sends her to preach to his disciples. This Sunday’s Gospel tells of Jesus’ appearances to the disciples and then eight days later to Thomas.
Fear has the disciples locked away. Jesus, not constrained by doors, comes among them and in showing his hands and side ‘proves’ that he really is the one whom they had known and loved, and who had died. As with all the Resurrection Stories, Jesus is shown as the same person the disciples had known but he is not confined by materiality. He is who he was but much more.
Jesus appears to the ‘disciples’ – no numbers or names are given. In these few short verses his words and actions recall the major themes of the Last Discourse. He repeatedly offers ‘Peace’, he states that as the Father sent him, they are now being sent out in turn by Jesus into the world. In other words, the relationship they have with him is to mirror his relationship with the Father. To fulfil that mission, he breathes on them the Holy Spirit. This is the Johannine Pentecost. The distinctive power given by the Spirit is in relation to sins. Here ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world’ sends the disciples into the world to deal with sin: they will offer forgiveness to those who come into the light. Those who refuse to believe will have the sinfulness of their lives revealed by the light of the faith of believers.
One disciple is not there – Thomas. The disciples witness to him but he refuses to believe, unless Jesus fulfils his criteria. Twice, already, in this Gospel, Thomas’ capacity for misunderstanding has been used by Jesus to reveal a deeper truth. Confronted with the wounds he demanded, Thomas gives the final and supreme title of this Gospel to Jesus: ‘My Lord and my God!’ This is the climax of the narrative. Now Jesus calls ‘blessed’ all the readers and hearers of the Gospel, who have never seen him but who still believe because of the witness of his fragile, but faith-filled and joyful community.
On that note, the author turns to all his readers, and to us, offering his reasons for writing. What he revealed concerning the Word of God in the Prologue and through the many signs of the Gospel has truly been fulfilled. We, who have read about or heard of the journey of Jesus through this world, are invited to belief and through belief to the fullness of life.