On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. [Jesus] said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
Thomas, called Didymus,, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? ” Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” (John 20:19-29)
Even though Thomas, the disciple, had walked with Jesus, his heart was not always open. His wavering faith earned him the nickname of “Doubting Thomas.” He needed proof. What did Jesus do? Did Jesus reject Him? No! Did Jesus correct Him? No! Jesus opened the eyes of Thomas’ heart to show him just how much He loved Him.
I can picture Jesus going right up to Thomas and putting out His hands toward him. I can just see in my mind’s eye Thomas with a smile upon his face, a mile wide, the smile we all put on when we greet an old friend. Thomas automatically extends His hand, ready to shake hands with his dear friend. He knew Jesus well. Jesus was his teacher who he had walked with, who he had talked with, and who he had shared life with. Jesus was the man who he had witnessed from afar being crucified. Jesus was his companion who had died. This same Jesus was now standing right before Him. Seconds before this encounter not only were the doors of the upper room closed but also the doors of Thomas’s heart. In an instant, the “eyes” of his heart were opened miraculously. In the time it took for the hands of two friends to join together in a manly grip, hope was restored. Thomas was changed forever. I can just picture Thomas leaping through the room shouting, “He lives! He lives forevermore!” Thomas, “the Doubter” had become Thomas, “the Declarer of Good News.” He now saw with his own eyes and proclaimed with his own mouth with a faith that resided in his heart. He had not only heard “He Has Risen” but at that moment Thomas witnessed the living Christ right before his eyes. He felt His love. Miracles happened when he put his hand in the nail scarred hand of his friend Jesus.
A miracle happened to Thomas and it can happen to you. The greatest miracles happen in the heart. The “eyes” of our heart become unveiled as you see clearly how much Jesus loves you. Not in just words but in actions.
Every Pentecost when this scripture is read, hope leaps up in the depth of my soul. It is this hope of awaiting a promise that I know God will fulfill. Do you have that hope in His promises? He did it for the disciples and He will do it for you. Our God is faithful. If He said it He will surely do it. Even if the doors of our hearts are closed, Jesus will find a way to get inside. He has the key to our heart.
How open is your heart? Mary’s heart was open at the Annunciation to receive God’s promises. “The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary and she conceived of the Holy Spirit.” The promise was fulfilled. “Then the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Elizabeth was open to receive the promise, even though she was past childbearing years. Her aged womb was young enough to carry her baby boy and aware enough to feel him leap. They had the eyes of faith and all of their hearts were open. God poured in life. God opened the “eyes” of their hearts to receive Him.
What if the doors of your heart are closed? What if the doors of your children’s hearts are closed? What if the doors of your husband’s heart are closed? Reread in the book of Acts the story of Pentecost. Even though the doors were closed, Jesus appeared. Jesus has a way of walking through the doors of hearts that are tightly locked. He brings along the key to open the door with His love. His love tenders. Jesus died for those who receive Him into their hearts and those who refuse to. There is always hope.
I often tell young mothers that first you birth your children from your womb physically. Then you birth your offspring spiritually. I must say the second birth is the harder one. How do we cultivate their faith and keep our children’s hearts open to receiving it? Our homes are called to be, “The Little Church.” We lead our children through our words and through our deeds. We feed them the faith daily by living our Catholic faith daily. One of the greatest gifts we can give our husbands and our children is to pray for them daily. God hears the prayer that comes from our hearts.
One day I was carpooling a grandchild home from pre-school. This child was desperately in need of a nap. An idea popped into my head that I felt was prompted by the Holy Spirit. “Let’s put on some Christian music to feed your soul,“ I said.
She immediately replied, “But Nana, I am not hungry.” I laughed out loud. Later I thought to myself, sometimes we feel the same way. We are not hungry for the things of God. Sometimes we are too busy to even pray. Sometimes we feel far away and need proof. Sometimes we are angry and stay away. Sometimes we don’t know why we do as we do, but our hearts are closed and we don’t know what to do. Not to worry, Jesus is always knocking on the door of our hearts. He always brings the music to feed our souls. Pray that our hearts and those of our family members would hunger and thirst after Him. Pray that we all would open the door of our heart to Him. Know that He will find a way as we pray. He will fill our hungry heart and satisfy our souls.
Jesus loves us so much that He will walk on the water to save us if we are drowning. He will walk right through the door of our heart even if we have locked it tight. He will reach out His nail scared hand to help us. Jesus loves us so much that He died for us. He loves us all best.
The more you open the doors of your hearts to Him the more He can fill you with His love. Then you too, like Thomas, will have a story to tell. Pray that the “eyes” of your heart will be opened so you can declare, “He Lives!” Declare the Good News boldly, like the Blessed Mother, Elizabeth and Thomas. “He lives. He lives forevermore.” God’s promises will have you leaping for all eternity.
Copyright 2017 Ellen Mongan