Peter, standing among the 11, raises his voice to the Israelites and tells of one attested by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs. He scrapes the wound of memory, speaking of the one who was taken, crucified, and killed. He announces good news saying that God has raised him and freed him from death. He states his homiletic purpose: “This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses” (Acts 2:32). As a witness, Peter cares that what he says is received in faith. He says, in effect, “[I preach] that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).
Let the reader understand: he speaks to be heard. Boredom in the pulpit is a sin against the Holy Spirit. Teach, delight, and persuade. Get down to business. Above all else, keep the Messiah on your mind and heart and lips, and let your love fall upon the ones you address. Tell them largely what they want to hear, sympathize with their convictions, hold dear most of what they hold dear, and be where they are to the full extent the incarnation allows; then, trouble and humor their hearts with the impossible goodness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Stand, raise your voice, and address them.
Receiving the news of the resurrection of Christ has the taste of a chosen portion, an overflowing cup of brewed goodness (Ps. 16:5). The listener feels the heart sing with gladness, the soul awaken with rejoicing, the body secure in rest, joy, and pleasure (Ps. 16:9, 11). This is “new birth into a living hope” and “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading” (1 Pet. 1:3-4). This is life from the dead, life forevermore. And yet this good news — imperishable, undefiled, and unfading — faces a test. To be sure, a newborn Christian wet with the water of baptism is all newness, innocence, and beauty. But it does not last. “You have suffered many trials” (1 Pet. 1:6). Believing intensifies one’s awareness that in the world there is tribulation.
The appearance of the risen Lord to Thomas reclaims the story of the Lord’s pain. Thomas doubts: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). Appearing, Jesus says, “Put your finger here and see my hands: Reach out your hand and put it in my side” (John 20:27). The wounds remain in the risen body of Christ. This is true resurrection for the long road of trial and doubt and suffering. In some measure, every Christian bears both the suffering and the new life of Christ. St. Paul, closing his epistle to the Galatians, describes his own stigmata: “I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body” (Gal. 6:17). Writing to the church in Rome, he describes baptism: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? … so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of his Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4).
Easter Sunday does not delete Holy Saturday, Good Friday, Maundy Thursday, or the sad day when Job, sitting among the ashes, cursed the day of his birth. Every sorrow and every death are the raw material of resurrection. Amid various trials, Christ stands present and fully alive with his wounds. He stands there for you.
Look It Up
Read John 20:27. Graphic.
Think About It
Your infirmity is the wound in the resurrection Gospel.
Image of Jesus and the Apostle Thomas by Fr. Lawrence Lew, OP/Flickr