Saturday, April 7, 2018

2nd Sunday of Easter, Year B, 08.04.2018

Acts 4:32-35 / 1 John 5:1-6 / John 20:19-31

Generally speaking, a person has five senses – the sense of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and the sense of touch. All these senses are important as they send signals to the brain so that we can respond to what our senses are telling us. There is also the “sixth sense” but that is beyond the scope of science.

Of these five senses, the seeing and the hearing functions are often engaged and that’s why the audio-visual gives us a lot more information about the world around us and about our surroundings.

But with that comes the problem of fake news. Aided by social media and by computer graphics, fake news can spread like wild fire because its intent is to generate excitement and anxiety, regardless of the consequences.

For example, recently there was a video clip circulating on social media about strong tidal waves lashing out at Bedok Jetty. It looked so real, but it turned out to be fake news.

Then on Good Friday (it is said that on Good Friday it always rains around 3pm) it was reported that strong winds destroyed chicken coops in Chua Chu Kang. Singapore rarely has those kinds of strong winds, so it sounded like fake news, until it is reported in the newspapers. That was what happened on Good Friday, and it made some news. 

On the religious scene, Good Friday was the day we recalled the suffering, death and burial of Jesus. Then on Easter Sunday we celebrated His Resurrection, which is often called the greatest celebration of our faith.

So we have heard about the Resurrection and we even celebrate it. But how much about the Resurrection do we actually believe in?

For Thomas, who was not there when the Risen Jesus first appeared to the disciples, he did not want to believe it. He thought that the disciples were spreading fake news.

For Thomas, hearing what the rest of the disciples say about the Risen Jesus did not convince him. He retorted with a demand: Unless I see the holes that the nails made in His hands and can put my finger into the holes, and unless I can put my hand into His side, I refuse to believe.

Thomas made such a stark demand because too much had already been demanded from him, with the result that his faith was broken. He had put his faith and hope in Jesus, and that came crashing down when he saw Jesus being crucified, died and was buried.

He was so disappointed that he didn’t even want to be with the rest of the disciples. He didn’t want to be in the misery of their company, since there was nothing to hope for and nothing to believe in anymore. 

He wanted to forget about everything and move on. And then the disciples had to tell him this news of the Resurrection.
Of course he won’t believe them. For him to believe them, he stated his demands clearly. He had already been disappointed and it was painful, and he didn’t want to be disappointed again.

Eight long days had to pass before Jesus appeared to them again and this time Thomas was with the rest of the disciples.

Jesus came specially for Thomas and invited him to put his finger into the holes of His hands and to put his hand into His side. Whether Thomas actually did that or not, we are not told.

Thomas only exclaimed: My Lord and my God!

Jesus came to let Thomas touch His wounds. But actually Jesus came to touch the wounds of Thomas. Jesus came to touch his wounds of disappointment and pain, and to heal him of his grievous doubts.

It can be said that the first miracle that the Risen Jesus worked was to heal the heart of Thomas. The proof of that healing was that Thomas made that profound proclamation of faith: My Lord and my God.

Even as we hear all this, it doesn’t mean that we will have no doubts about the Resurrection of Jesus. Though we may not say that the Resurrection is fake news, we have not seen the Risen Jesus or touched His wounds.

And when the troubles and struggles of this world begin to overwhelm us, doubts will arise and shake our faith and even break our hearts.

We get angry with God for not answering our prayers, and we get disappointed with God for not helping us in our needs.

But God is loving and merciful. This Sunday is also called Divine Mercy Sunday. 

Jesus knows the doubts in our hearts. He knows the wounds that we have inflicted upon our hearts by our own sins. He wants to touch our hearts with His mercy so that we can be healed.

Healing was the first miracle worked by the Risen Jesus, and the first gift to His disciples was peace, when He said to them, “Peace be with you.”

Healing and peace is what the Risen Jesus wants to give us. That is certainly no fake news. In fact, that is the Good News! 

And blessed are we who believe in this Good News from our Risen Saviour.