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BE NOT AFRAID!
Second Sunday of Easter, Year A
I think that the world today is filled with fear. Due to recent calamities which seem to turn to something more like an epidemic, people are becoming more afraid and anxious of what might happen in the near future.
But what is fear? Fear is related to the specific behaviors of escape and avoidance. I other words, fear is a defense mechanism. When we are afraid, we suspend action. We observe our surroundings and we avoid any possibility that may put us in danger and work out ways in order to escape.
We hear in today’s Gospel a very interesting story about Thomas whom we call at times as the “doubting Thomas”. He was so named because he doubted that Jesus has truly risen as told to him by ten other apostles and some women. He did not believe up until such time he saw Him and touched His very wounds from His crucifixion. But what can we learn from Thomas’ attitude of doubt?
First, is to stay put in the midst of doubt. If there is one big credit, I would give to Thomas, it would be that he stayed with those who claimed seeing the resurrected Christ. Yes, he doubted but only at some point. He could have walked away and said that, “You’re all crazy! I’m walking away!” But he didn’t. In fact, he stayed with them. When we have doubts and questions about our faith, we need to stay with it and not walk away. Had Thomas walked away, then he could never have seen Jesus Christ. He could never have allowed Christ to reveal Himself to him.
To stay put is to be patient. Patience is a virtue – a constant practice of enduring life’s trials and difficulties. Today’s world needs patience; patience in the midst of a dwindling economy; patience in the midst of calamities; and patience in any relationship. When we are patient, we stay put; we give allowance to persons to grow; and most of all, we become unafraid to whatever comes our way.
Second, we learn from Thomas to trust in God. Afterdoubting, Thomas became a sure believer of the Risen Christ. In some of Jesus’ appearance he would say, “Do not be afraid!” Fear is the opposite of trust. When Christ tells us not to be afraid, he tells us simply to trust in Him. He tells us to have FAITH inHim! It is interesting that in the Bible the word “faith” occurs 769 times in the New Testament alone. With reference to the Old Testament, faith implies that bond of loyalty between God and His people Israel. In that sense, not to have faith, therefore, is to fear the Lord and to give up that bond of loyalty we have with God.
How many miracles have occurred due to one’s trust in God? How many lives have changed after one learns to trust in God? How many have become Saints because of their faith in God?
Third, we learn from Thomas the true meaning of peace. Jesus’ greeting to His apostles on Easter Sunday night was “Peace be with you!” A person full of fear does not know peace. Before we know peace we have to know who we can trust and know that our trust is secure. Our trust is secure in Jesus but we all wish that God would give us more proof just like Thomas did. Thomas achieved true peace upon knowing that Christ truly has risen from dead and is alive in his midst. When he affirmed this truth by saying, “My Lord and my God” he was able to realize peace in the presence of His Master, the true source of his security … the true source of peace.
Are we a peaceful person who recognizes Christ as our true Savior and guide? We should realize by now that material things do not give us complete security and peace as taught to us by recent calamities. We should know by now that the only way to peace is by fully acknowledging the presence of Christ, who is with us both physically and spiritually in the Eucharist.
Finally, it is coincidental that when we talk about fear and Thomas, we anticipate the beatification of our late Holy Father, John Paul II. In some of his writings, he often quotes the very words of Christ, “Do not be afraid!” In all the challenges he’d faced in his life, he had always been a courageous servant just like Thomas, who may have doubted Christ at some point, but have made their way to sainthood.
The challenge for us today, the 2nd Sunday of Easter is to not be afraid; to stay put in the midst of challenges and defeat; to trust in God that all may be well; and more importantly, that we may achieve peace as we recognize Christ as the source of peace. Let us ask for the gift of courage in order that fear may not overcome us but faith in God instead.
Saint Thomas, the Apostle … pray for us!
Blessed John Paul II … pray for us!