Sunday reflection: John 20:19–31

posted at 10:01 am on April 27, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

“Sunday Reflection” is a regular feature, looking at the specific readings used in today’s Mass in Catholic parishes around the world. The reflection represents only my own point of view, intended to help prepare myself for the Lord’s day and perhaps spark a meaningful discussionPrevious Sunday Reflections from the main page can be found here For previous Green Room entries, click here.

This morning’s Gospel reading is John 20:19–31

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 nailmarks 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.”

Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

Earlier today, Pope Francis canonized two of his more recent predecessors, Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. They join in the canon of saints whose life stories of heroic sanctity inspire Catholics and other Christians around the world to greater holiness. One of the more common misconceptions about recognized saints in the Catholic practice is that sainthood requires a life without error or doubt, but even a quick read of some of their life stories dispels that myth rather quickly. St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the doctors of the Church and a towering figure in Christianity, was so addicted to earthly pleasure that he kept delaying his conversion. Jesus Christ Himself is our model of perfect love and worship for God, but the saints teach us much about the human struggle to achieve it.

Saint Thomas’ story in the Gospels provides us with a story of failure that mirrors a universal human response to the challenge of faith itself.  Who hasn’t been a “doubting Thomas” at some (perhaps many) stages in our own lives? It is the struggle of faith against the limitations of human reason, the struggle of faith against hopelessness, and the human failing to reject faith in favor of the limitation of our own experience.

It’s not difficult to understand why Thomas remains skeptical in this instance, either. Jesus had been crucified and buried, which would have given most people plenty of reason to consider the movement over. Hearing that a man killed in that matter had returned to life would produce at least a desire for some evidence of the claim from most of us.

On the other hand, this was no ordinary claim, nor an ordinary group. Thomas had seen Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead, and had heard Jesus teach about the need for His death and resurrection to complete his mission. Plus, the other disciples offered their own unanimous testimony to the one man in Jerusalem who should have been relatively easy to evangelize. Thomas rejected all of them, and rejected faith as well. Instead, Thomas demanded that Jesus re-present Himself for inspection before Thomas would give his faith to Jesus.

In short, he wanted to test God, to know rather than believe. This is no different than the Israelites in the desert who kept balking at Moses after the Exodus, or to the Pharisees and Sadducees in Jerusalem in the New Testament who repeatedly tried to test Jesus in a similar manner. Satan tempted Jesus to fail in the same sin during the Temptation in the Desert, challenging Jesus to test God by hurling himself off the mountain and forcing God to send angels to save him. Jesus rebuked Satan, saying, “Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”

Yet, Jesus does not abandon Thomas for his unbelief or for Thomas’ attempt to put Jesus to the test. Rather, He returns again when Thomas is among the disciples in order to correct Thomas. Jesus does scold Thomas and reminds him that the true communion with God is through voluntary belief — but Thomas, rebuked, is also forgiven and brought back into the fold. This to me epitomizes Jesus as shepherd of His flock, especially with those who will shortly go out into the world. Almost all of them had abandoned Him at some time during the Passion, and yet all return to Jesus afterward. Even Thomas, who ends up getting dragged back to faith, is restored to the love of Christ. Almost one by one, Jesus brings them back, just like any good shepherd whose lamb has strayed.

Thomas, as it happens, has quite a life ahead in service to Christ. He travels the farthest, perhaps, of any of the disciples. Thomas ends up in India, where his conversion created a community of Christians that exist to this day. Our family sponsors a Christian family in Kerala, near where Thomas landed and evangelized. Thomas was martyred there according to some traditions (others have him dying a natural death), but his life of heroic sanctity and devotion to Christ in spreading the Gospel makes Thomas an obvious choice as a saint, despite his enduring reputation for doubt based on a single episode between the Resurrection and Pentecost.

So, perhaps that reputation is more than a little unfair — but that prompts another question: Why did John include it in the Gospel? For that matter, why do all four Gospels include the story of Peter denying Christ three times during the Passion? In all four accounts, no other disciple was with Peter, so Peter himself has to be the source, or at the very least approving of the inclusion of this account in the Gospel taught in the earliest days of the Church. Why include stories that make the Apostles look weak, frightened, unbelieving, and even arguably paints them as apostates?

They included these stories because the Gospels speak to us as we are, in all stages of our lives.  We see ourselves in these episodes, and we see the Apostles as fully human and frail, just as we all are. These Gospel stories remind us that faith isn’t a one-time simple binary choice, but a life full of daily choices to believe and have faith.  We stumble, we doubt, we may even lose courage and try to go with the flow rather than take the risk to live our faith in the public square. Jesus will wait patiently for us to find our way back to Him, and even find His way back to us when we need it. The saints who brought us the Gospel humbled themselves to ensure that we understood, even two millenia later.

The stories of all the saints are filled with these kinds of stumbles, failures, and doubts. The saints, starting with Peter and Thomas and working all the way to John XXIII and John Paul II, don’t lecture us on perfection. The saints beckon us to become their brothers and sisters, and to take heart in their struggles as we deal with our own. They remind us of the enduring love of God and our status as ever-prodigal sons and daughters, with our Father waiting for us to find our way home so that He can include us in the eternal celebration of His love.


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Ed, thank you. Very moving and deeply inspirational.

TonyP on April 27, 2014 at 10:11 AM

Jesus will wait patiently for us to find our way back to Him, and even find His way back to us when we need it.

I recently read a reflection on the parable of the Prodigal Son. There’s always something new in what one assumes is the same old story.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

Did the father stand on the front porch, or go out on the road and look for the son, rather than waiting inside? It seems the father was regularly scanning the horizon, and went out more than halfway once he saw a familiar figure.

Wethal on April 27, 2014 at 10:11 AM

Your reflections and exegesis on the Sunday readings are better then most clergy.

celtic warrior on April 27, 2014 at 10:12 AM

The stories of all the saints are filled with these kinds of stumbles, failures, and doubts.

I NEVER (maybe I should put that in quotes) have doubts, but doubts were entering my head at the beginning Mass last night, wherein we used the Sunday readings you share here. I know that Satan exists because things happen that convince me of it. I “never” doubt, but I was struggling with doubt through this particular Mass when the Gospel reading was about “doubting Thomas,” and I know that this was not something that I came up with on my own, but was planted in me, and that I had to struggle against.

I spend every second of my waking life trying to do what God wills. I cling to Him because I have Bipolar Disorder and I would be dead, literally, if I did not cling to Him. But even if you spend every waking moment clinging to God, you will be tempted. We are all human. We all struggle. It can be argued that the saints struggle more than others do. But God is the loving Shepherd who will seek out every lost sheep. Every one. Cling to Him, but know that even if you do that, you will be tempted. We all are.

God bless all.

– Lisa Graas

gocatholic on April 27, 2014 at 10:16 AM

Ed…Beautifully written! God bless you sir.
Yours in Christ,
Michael.

Michael Harlin on April 27, 2014 at 10:16 AM

Once again Ed…thanks so much for these weekly “Reflections.” And to all the bloggers who add their own thoughts.

Well done everyone.

CoffeeLover on April 27, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Who hasn’t been a “doubting Thomas” at some (perhaps many) stages in our own lives?

Thomas gets a bad rap, being remembered as the only doubter. Jesus showed his hands and side to all the other disciples too before they rejoiced. It would be like an idiom: “Peter the Denier”.

Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:

“‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

Fenris on April 27, 2014 at 10:44 AM

I am troubled by the authoritarian message here against simply having rational lines of questioning. As a curious creature, no doubt Thomas would want to see the wounds. Not sure why he has to catch a bad rap here.

I suppose it is only logical since too many questions could have splintered the religion at many times throughout history. Did they ever return that donkey they stole from the villagers?

antisense on April 27, 2014 at 10:57 AM

Your reflections and exegesis on the Sunday readings are better then most clergy.

celtic warrior on April 27, 2014 at 10:12 AM

…I know!…but… don’t tell him that!

KOOLAID2 on April 27, 2014 at 10:59 AM

KOOLAID2 is correct, the head will swell even more…… ;-D
Oh, hi Ed, its been awhile…… ;)

angrymike on April 27, 2014 at 11:03 AM

angrymike on April 27, 2014 at 11:03 AM

That wasn’t my head swelling … it’s the hair disappearing.

Thanks for the compliments, but I can’t take credit for the inspiration. As my former pastor used to say (and what I am only now beginning to understand), give praise to the Holy Spirit for what spoke to you — and blame me for what didn’t.

Ed Morrissey on April 27, 2014 at 11:07 AM

angrymike on April 27, 2014 at 11:03 AM

…our prodigal son! ^ ….that makes you very Biblical… angrymike!

KOOLAID2 on April 27, 2014 at 11:12 AM

Captain Ed
Yes, we just give what’s been given to us.
And, at least you’re at peace with the hair thing, I’ve been lucky, but the big 50 is only 13 months away, and the drain needs cleaned a lot more often……. ;-/

angrymike on April 27, 2014 at 11:12 AM

Uh, not so fast KOOLAID2, but I did meet a fine catholic girl…. ;)

angrymike on April 27, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Did the father stand on the front porch, or go out on the road and look for the son, rather than waiting inside? It seems the father was regularly scanning the horizon, and went out more than halfway once he saw a familiar figure.

Wethal on April 27, 2014 at 10:11 AM

The Father is always waiting to meet us more than halfway. No matter what we do, it seems. He waited a long time for me, and I kept tripping over Him before I finally realized He had been waiting for me to see Him.

Kraken on April 27, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Jesus will wait patiently for us to find our way back to Him, and even find His way back to us when we need it.

Maybe it is the Protestant in me I find the idea that one has to “find our way back to Christ” a tad bit annoying. Christ never went anywhere!

Happy Nomad on April 27, 2014 at 11:31 AM

Christ never went anywhere!

Happy Nomad on April 27, 2014 at 11:31 AM

Not speaking for anyone else, but I sure did. I went places a decent person wouldn’t think to find Christ. It took… a lot for me to finally see him.

Look at it from a quantum perspective: the distance may be infinitesimally small, but the journey can be long and arduous. And then you get there, and it really isn’t/wasn’t that far at all.

Silly, but I don’t know how else to describe it.

Kraken on April 27, 2014 at 11:49 AM

Thanks Ed. Blessings!

OmahaConservative on April 27, 2014 at 11:50 AM

Great post, Ed. Thank you.

Bitter Clinger on April 27, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Not speaking for anyone else, but I sure did. I went places a decent person wouldn’t think to find Christ. It took… a lot for me to finally see him.

Kraken on April 27, 2014 at 11:49 AM

That’s the point I was trying to make. People talk about having strayed so far they don’t know how to find their way back to Christ but the reality is that when they turn around they find that Christ was there all the time. We sinners don’t need to find Christ, we need to open our hearts to Him.

Happy Nomad on April 27, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Very moving, thanks Ed.
(My first post)

Winston99 on April 27, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Beautiful post – thanks Ed

gophergirl on April 27, 2014 at 12:35 PM

Plus, the other disciples offered their own unanimous testimony to the one man in Jerusalem who should have been relatively easy to evangelize.

Hmmm, interesting point.

Cleombrotus on April 27, 2014 at 12:50 PM

Thomas rejected all of them, and rejected faith as well.

I’m not too sure about that, myself. I’m more inclined to see in him his desire to REALLY know, rather than to just believe what anyone else says.

Sort of like the difference between the rich young ruler of Mark 10 and the lawyer of Luke 10, who BOTH ask the exact same question but, it says of the one in Mark that, Jesus, looking at him, LOVED him, whereas, the lawyer gets a different treatment.

The young man in Mark 10 actually WANTED to know the answer to his question but the lawyer was merely playing games.

Cleombrotus on April 27, 2014 at 12:55 PM

other than that, great encouraging thoughts.

Cleombrotus on April 27, 2014 at 12:57 PM

Did the father stand on the front porch, or go out on the road and look for the son, rather than waiting inside? It seems the father was regularly scanning the horizon, and went out more than halfway once he saw a familiar figure.

Wethal on April 27, 2014 at 10:11 AM

The passage says he saw his son coming from afar off and RAN to meet him, a rather undignified thing for a man of means to do in those days.

That’s how our Father responds when we finally come to the end of ourselves and come home.

CurtZHP on April 27, 2014 at 1:26 PM

After accepting Jesus into your heart as Savior and LORD, you do “know”. It’s by a different avenue of ‘perception’ than the five physical senses, but you KNOW.

It’s before you willfully ask Him into your heart as Savior and LORD, that it takes ‘faith’.

It’s our job as believers to provide that little spark of faith, that’s enough to convince unbelievers that Jesus is real, and they need Him.

listens2glenn on April 27, 2014 at 1:31 PM

Happy Nomad on April 27, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Got it. Perspective can be a funny thing…

Kraken on April 27, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Fenris on April 27, 2014 at 10:44 AM

My sentiments, too.

I think we have a misunderstanding of faith involved. Thomas is expected to believe his buds who the day before were certain that Jesus was dead and gone. One of whom was Peter the Denier.

Faith is based on evidence–the “assurance” of things not seen.

Thomas was not equivalent of the modern “Skeptic” who a priori disregards anything non-physical He was a person who wanted to based his faith of things not seen on evidence.

After being confronted with evidence, his faith, of things not seen, that Jesus was both Lord and God–his Lord and God–was solidly based on empirical evidence: that Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind, was risen indeed.

davidk on April 27, 2014 at 1:50 PM

And He will use anything and everything to get you to come back to Him. He wants no one to perish.

crosshugger on April 27, 2014 at 2:02 PM

Jesus will wait patiently for us to find our way back to Him, and even find His way back to us when we need it.

Maybe it is the Protestant in me I find the idea that one has to “find our way back to Christ” a tad bit annoying. Christ never went anywhere!

Happy Nomad on April 27, 2014 at 11:31 AM

And since we cannot be saved by anything we do, we cannot lose our salvation by anything we do. (I do not, however, subscribe to the Calvinist notion of eternal security.)

Sometimes the wasted life sitting on the curb outside the dive, is closer to Jesus than the three-piece suit sitting on the front pew.

(Saving faith is not something we do; it is something we have.)

davidk on April 27, 2014 at 2:05 PM

Very moving, thanks Ed.
(My first post)

Winston99 on April 27, 2014 at 12:32 PM

You picked a fine one. Welcome.

There are no angels and saints on Earth.

Schadenfreude on April 27, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Maybe it is the Protestant in me I find the idea that one has to “find our way back to Christ” a tad bit annoying. Christ never went anywhere!

Happy Nomad on April 27, 2014 at 11:31 AM

Not speaking for anyone else, but I sure did. I went places a decent person wouldn’t think to find Christ. It took… a lot for me to finally see him.

Look at it from a quantum perspective: the distance may be infinitesimally small, but the journey can be long and arduous. And then you get there, and it really isn’t/wasn’t that far at all.

Silly, but I don’t know how else to describe it.

Kraken on April 27, 2014 at 11:49 AM

.
‘Nomad, no matter how ‘not-lost’ Jesus is, we still are … until we accept Him as LORD and Savior.
.
I believe you put that rather well, Kraken.

listens2glenn on April 27, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Thanks for the scripture reference. It’s a great way to start the week.

koolbob on April 27, 2014 at 2:23 PM

Thomas rejected all of them, and rejected faith as well.

I’m not too sure about that, myself. I’m more inclined to see in him his desire to REALLY know, rather than to just believe what anyone else says.

Sort of like the difference between the rich young ruler of Mark 10 and the lawyer of Luke 10, who BOTH ask the exact same question but, it says of the one in Mark that, Jesus, looking at him, LOVED him, whereas, the lawyer gets a different treatment.

The young man in Mark 10 actually WANTED to know the answer to his question but the lawyer was merely playing games.

Cleombrotus on April 27, 2014 at 12:55 PM

But then again, Jesus DID say to him, “Do not be faithless, but believing” so you’re probably closer to the truth of the matter.

Cleombrotus on April 27, 2014 at 2:39 PM

I’m not too sure about that, myself. I’m more inclined to see in him his desire to REALLY know, rather than to just believe what anyone else says.

Today our pastor said that this was just Thomas’ innate nature, his pessimistic personality (as can be seen by his other appearances in scripture, such as when he said, “Let us go to Jerusalem and die with him,” because he was so sure Jesus was going to be killed at that early point in the ministry.

And, as the scripture verse today points out, the other apostles DID get the opportunity to feel the Lord’s scars, so maybe he felt left out!

Thanks, Ed, for a great meditation!

Ms. Contrarian Scientist on April 27, 2014 at 2:49 PM

In short, he wanted to test God, to know rather than believe. This is no different than the Israelites in the desert who kept balking at Moses after the Exodus, or to the Pharisees and Sadducees in Jerusalem in the New Testament who repeatedly tried to test Jesus in a similar manner. Satan tempted Jesus to fail in the same sin during the Temptation in the Desert, challenging Jesus to test God by hurling himself off the mountain and forcing God to send angels to save him. Jesus rebuked Satan, saying, “Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”

I’m not quite sure that’s the best way to see it. The apostles were eyewitnesses of the life of Christ, or as in the case of St. Paul at least saw the resurrected Savior.

When we believe the gospel we are believing the apostles’ accounts of what they saw and heard with their own eyes and ears, not just what they were told.

I don’t think there was any test of God in St. Thomas’ desire to see the risen Lord. Jesus didn’t make a special appearance to him, he was with the other apostles the next time Jesus appeared to them all.

The takeaway is, the man who would not believe the other apostles’ report of Jesus’ resurrection had to see with his own eyes the risen Jesus before he would believe He was risen. And he did.

Akzed on April 27, 2014 at 2:53 PM

BTW Ed, this is a great feature. I hope it stays around.

Akzed on April 27, 2014 at 2:55 PM

Ms. Contrarian Scientist on April 27, 2014 at 2:49 PM

Thanks for that. Yes, it is interesting, and I have observed, that in the Body of Christ, we still maintain our individual personalities and Jesus glories in the diversity. He does not demand that we all be alike, only that we be unified in faith.

[11]And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.

[22] The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,

John 17:11 & 22

Cleombrotus on April 27, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Oh, Ed Morrisey, I love you. (In an appropriate writer/commenter way.) That was great!

Annie21LA on April 27, 2014 at 3:53 PM

Thomas rejected all of them, and rejected faith as well.

Oh, I disagree.

Thomas loved too much. Have none of you lost a spouse, a child, a parent?

While you are still aching over the crashing reality of your beloved being gone, what if someone came to you and said “We saw her! She’s alive!” Could you dare believe it? You know they are dead- can you let yourself believe that death has been set aside? Won’t it just hurt all the more when you realize it was all a lie?

I am convinced Thomas simply couldn’t bear the thought of hoping and believing, and then being disappointed.

It could not have been easy for the Apostles and Jesus’ followers to set aside common sense and life-long experience for faith. Wouldn’t it be silly to believe that ordinary rational, level-headed businessmen, blue-collar workers and housewives could walk and talk with God?

Dolce Far Niente on April 27, 2014 at 4:48 PM

Go and get refueled in the morning at our local church, and get the tank topped off here in the afternoon. Thanks Ed.

hillsoftx on April 27, 2014 at 4:58 PM

Another beautiful and excellent reflection, Ed.

Thank you.

PatriotGal2257 on April 27, 2014 at 5:18 PM

Thank you for your Sunday reflections. Hope that nonbelievers read, then believe….

chai on April 27, 2014 at 5:24 PM

Thomas rejected all of them, and rejected faith as well.

Oh, I disagree.

Thomas loved too much. Have none of you lost a spouse, a child, a parent?

While you are still aching over the crashing reality of your beloved being gone, what if someone came to you and said “We saw her! She’s alive!” Could you dare believe it? You know they are dead- can you let yourself believe that death has been set aside? Won’t it just hurt all the more when you realize it was all a lie?

I am convinced Thomas simply couldn’t bear the thought of hoping and believing, and then being disappointed.

It could not have been easy for the Apostles and Jesus’ followers to set aside common sense and life-long experience for faith. Wouldn’t it be silly to believe that ordinary rational, level-headed businessmen, blue-collar workers and housewives could walk and talk with God?

Dolce Far Niente on April 27, 2014 at 4:48 PM

I agree with you. Wanting to see evidence for oneself is not a rejection of faith. Thomas would have been guilty of rejection of faith if he had disregarded the evidence after having seen it.

non-nonpartisan on April 27, 2014 at 5:31 PM

There are no angels and saints on Earth.

Schadenfreude on April 27, 2014 at 2:06 PM

And you know this how?

non-nonpartisan on April 27, 2014 at 5:41 PM

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet beleive.

Faith.

disguted by the elites on April 27, 2014 at 5:56 PM

Did the father stand on the front porch, or go out on the road and look for the son, rather than waiting inside? It seems the father was regularly scanning the horizon, and went out more than halfway once he saw a familiar figure.
Wethal on April 27, 2014 at 10:11 AM

My favorite parable. And in context with the very patriarchal society the ancient Israelites were, assuredly the father/elder of any family/tribe would not have had to move for anyone. Movement would be toward him. I can imagine the jaws of those listening to the Incarnate God before them explaining to them that the Father of all will drop everything and run for our embrace greeting us home no matter the insulting, humiliating, and disrespecting way we may have rejected Him before. So profound!

anuts on April 27, 2014 at 6:22 PM

This was excellent, Ed. I’m enjoying the discussion also!

Shay on April 27, 2014 at 7:57 PM

I Am The Man, Thomas
 
(Dr. Ralph Stanley bluegrass warning)

rogerb on April 27, 2014 at 8:34 PM

There are no angels and saints on Earth.

Schadenfreude on April 27, 2014 at 2:06 PM

.
And you know this how?

non-nonpartisan on April 27, 2014 at 5:41 PM

.
That made me do a double-take earlier, as well. After re-reading it a couple of times, I took it that Schad’ was trying to say (in his own way), “none of us is perfect”.

If I’m wrong, then hopefully Schad’ will respond with a correction.

listens2glenn on April 27, 2014 at 8:45 PM

Did the father stand on the front porch, or go out on the road and look for the son, rather than waiting inside? It seems the father was regularly scanning the horizon, and went out more than halfway once he saw a familiar figure.

Wethal on April 27, 2014 at 10:11 AM

Notice also how far the son gets into his rehearsed speech. He manages to confess his sins, but before he can offer to make recompense, his father forgives and restores him.

Just like with us. We repent of our sins, but we can’t pay for them. Instead God simply restores us. Our role is to receive His gifts that he gives us in His mercy. This is why the Lutherans call it the “Divine Service”. It is not us offering praise to God in hopes that He’ll bless us, it’s us humbly receiving God’s gifts, in Word and Sacrament, in reverence.

TheMightyMonarch on April 27, 2014 at 10:36 PM

Thanks, Ed.

It used to be traditional that when the priest elevated the host after the consecration, the faithful would look upon it and in their minds quote St. Thomas, “My Lord and my God.”

It’s something I like to do, so I thought I’d let others here who maybe never heard of it, in case they’d like to do it.

It was considered a special blessing if you did that.

Elisa on April 28, 2014 at 8:14 AM

Elisa on April 28, 2014 at 8:14 AM

* Look upon Him

Elisa on April 28, 2014 at 8:15 AM

Elisa on April 28, 2014 at 8:14 AM

I do that in Mass, too.

Ed Morrissey on April 28, 2014 at 9:02 AM

It used to be traditional that when the priest elevated the host after the consecration, the faithful would look upon it and in their minds quote St. Thomas, “My Lord and my God.”

It’s something I like to do, so I thought I’d let others here who maybe never heard of it, in case they’d like to do it.

It was considered a special blessing if you did that.

Elisa on April 28, 2014 at 8:14 AM

I’m asking this question sincerely, so please don’t think I’m trolling you or trying to play gotcha. I’m also not going to start some contentious debate about it.

TIA Elisa, Ed, or others who contribute.

I wasn’t raised catholic so I don’t get most of the stuff that goes on in mass so:

Why and how is it a “special blessing” to recite that whilst gazing “upon the host?” Who is getting blessed, and who is doing the blessing? What is the blessing?

Those aren’t “scare quotes,” I’m just trying to be specific.

Murphy9 on April 28, 2014 at 9:10 AM

“And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Question about the above quoted scripture. What is the significance of “ he breathed on them” in this passage? For some reason those four words popped out at me and I wonder if they have a greater meaning; that I can’t seem to figure out.

Thanks to Ed for this thread every week. Still reading and learning.

HonestLib on April 28, 2014 at 9:49 AM

“And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Question about the above quoted scripture. What is the significance of “ he breathed on them” in this passage? For some reason those four words popped out at me and I wonder if they have a greater meaning; that I can’t seem to figure out.

Thanks to Ed for this thread every week. Still reading and learning.

HonestLib on April 28, 2014 at 9:49 AM

Breath is a sign of life. Jesus had been put to death and buried. He arose on the third day and subsequently appeared to the disciples here. The significance that Jesus “breathed” on them is that He is alive. His nostrils are full of the breath of life. It might also be an indicator of intimacy/proximity, in a poetic sense. If someone is talking to you and you can feel their breath upon you, they are very present.

Murphy9 on April 28, 2014 at 10:01 AM

Murphy9 on April 28, 2014 at 9:10 AM

I don’t know about the “special blessing.” I do it more as an additional way to make myself more present and purposeful during the Eucharistic celebration.

Ed Morrissey on April 28, 2014 at 10:08 AM

In John 20:18 we read how Mary Magdalene tells the disciples that “I have seen the Lord.” yet in the very next verse we read that they are hiding. None of them believed. Then the ten disciples (Thomas was absent) see Jesus and believe. John 20:20 says, “…the disciples rejoiced when the SAW the Lord (emphasis mine).”

When Thomas returns they tell him (in John 20:25) “We have seen the Lord,” exactly what Mary told them. Not surprisingly Thomas does not believe until he sees.

The lesson as I see it is that we each need to have an encounter with the Risen Christ in order to believe. That is important for Christians to remember as we take the Gospel message to others.

Micah68 on April 28, 2014 at 10:19 AM

I don’t know about the “special blessing.” I do it more as an additional way to make myself more present and purposeful during the Eucharistic celebration.

Ed Morrissey on April 28, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Thanks Ed for the response and the weekly feature! It is a special blessing. :)

Still reading and learning.

HonestLib on April 28, 2014 at 9:49 AM

Always!

Murphy9 on April 28, 2014 at 10:21 AM

I’ll have to check back later for a response Elisa. I gotta get some sleep. Been a long nightshift week!

Murphy9 on April 28, 2014 at 11:27 AM

Well, that stinks – had a whole comment written out only for the site to crash on me. While I appreciate the inclusion of this section on HA, there is sadly a lot of misinformation being posted.

So here’s the readers digest version:

1) Both saving grace and faith are a gift of God (Ephesians 2:5), so none of the disciples had true faith until receiving the Holy Spirit after Christ’s ascension. The same holds true for us who claim to be saved, our faith itself is a gift from God, making our salvation even more amazing when you think about it. Seems people skip right over the words Jesus says to Thomas after his declaration – “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Consider that the disciples had the privilege of being directly taught by Jesus Himself over a period of three years, yet their faith was only revealed after Pentecost in Acts 2. The change in the disciples was night and day wasn’t it? Look at the conversion of Paul – same idea. In fact, Paul is the one who through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, points out that the child of a God is a new creation!

2) Anyone who claims to be saved is a saint! There is nothing more disturbing that seeing people buy into something as insidious as the idea that you are NOT a saint! Saints are not made through the Catholic church. They are made solely on the basis of the perfect work of Christ on the cross. Scripture is rife with references that point to the quality of ALL believers in Christ, and there is most certainly no support for the idea of clergy as we see it today. If you are saved – and I use that term specifically in the sense that you, through the work of the Holy Spirit, realize you are a sinner in desparate need of a Savior, then my friend, you are a saint! You are a co-heir with Christ Himself as you read in Romans 8, that you are accepted in the Beloved as you read in Ephesians 1. I could go on and on, but the heart of the issue is that you ARE a saint. The challenge is whether you’re living up to the salvation you’ve been called to! Now if I misinterpreted the positions of Ed and other responses on here, do let me know.

3) We’re not on some search to find God. The most unique aspect of Christianity is that its entire premise is on a God who wants you and not the other way around! Romans 3 spells out in heartbreaking detail just how hopeless we are without God. When you realize that, you find out just how precious your salvation is! If you claim to be saved, understand that it’s not because of you or anything you brought to the table but entirely because of God and His desire to save and have a relationship with you!

Please understand that none of the above should be taken as an attack on anyone or seen as antagnostic. Rather, it is in the interest of having a healthy discussion on the truths of Scripture!

ImmigrantConservative on April 28, 2014 at 11:54 AM

Why and how is it a “special blessing” to recite that whilst gazing “upon the host?” Who is getting blessed, and who is doing the blessing? What is the blessing?

The special blessing (like all blessings) comes from God. What Ed and I and many Catholics do is just a traditional thing (small “t.”) Not something required or something formally declared that all people must do. It’s just a thing that people did in the past from what I heard.

I imagine the reason we may receive an extra blessing from God is because it is a declaration of faith, “my Lord and my God” when we gaze on the resurrected Christ there present under the appearance of bread. (Because while we are present at the sacrifice at Calvary during the consecration, after the consecration, when Our Lord is physically present, He is in His resurrected glorified form, because that is the only present form He is in today. )

Just like St. Thomas was blessed by Christ when he declared it upon seeing the resurrected Christ.

I never researched it, but I imagine it’s like all blessings. Like when we say “God bless you” to each other. That the Lord shows us His favor, protection, help, etc. Small blessings and big blessings.

His grace is abundant. Our prayers for each other, the blessings we pray for ourselves and our families and each other, the blessings from the Church, the little sacramental like when we bless ourselves with holy water. We don’t always realize how much of His grace abounds around us and how much we can be used as His instruments and we don’t take enough advantage of that.

Mother Angelica once said that God’s grace is like deep pools of water, oceans and lakes. And that we only seem to take tiny teaspoonfuls when we should be taking it in ladles, helping ourselves to His gift of so many graces as often as we can.

I need all the grace and help and blessings I can get. Lol So I am always very grateful when someone prayers for me and especially my family and when someone says, “God bless you.”

Elisa on April 28, 2014 at 1:20 PM

Elisa on April 28, 2014 at 1:20 PM

Sorry.

Murphy9 on April 28, 2014 at 9:10 AM

That was for you. And may God bless you.

Elisa on April 28, 2014 at 1:21 PM

“And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Question about the above quoted scripture. What is the significance of “ he breathed on them” in this passage? For some reason those four words popped out at me and I wonder if they have a greater meaning; that I can’t seem to figure out.

Thanks to Ed for this thread every week. Still reading and learning.

HonestLib on April 28, 2014 at 9:49 AM

Jesus breathing on them was Jesus giving them His Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit.

Greek – Matthew 28:19.
“baptizontes autous eis to onoma tou patros kai tou uiou kai tou agiou pneumatos”

Because the Greek word “Pneumatos,” which is used for the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of God in the Bible is more like “breathed” or “wind.” Similar to the Hebrew word used in the Old Testament for the “spirit” of God – “ruach” – translated “breath” or “wind” or “spirit.” This word is similar to the Peshitta (the Syriac Bible – Syriac came from Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke) “rokha,” also “breath” or “wind” or “spirit.”

In Latin the word “Spiritus” means the same thing. Other languages translate it from that, like Spanish, Espiritu Santo.

Like when we say that the Bible (the Word of God) is God breathed. Like when there was a wind at Pentecost. At Pentecost, the Lord sent His Spirit to them again, this time the fullness of the Holy Spirit, for a particular purpose.

In the Exodus we see the wind of God part the waters of the Red Sea. We see Throughout the Old and New Testament, we see the power of God, the Spirit of God in the form of wind.

There is another Hebrew word for breathe that is also used. Can’t remember it. That one is used in Genesis when God breathed life into man. Like Murphy9 said, God’s breath is also life to us. His spirit is life to us.

Both Hebrew words are used in the Old Testament, books and Psalms, one meaning God’s life force, the other His Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is breathe. The breathe of God. God the Son and God the Holy Spirit precede from the Father. And this is the form that the 3rd Person of the Trinity often takes, breathe, wind, etc. We are filled with the breath of God.

In the Old Testament we also see the Spirit of God in fire, just like at Pentecost. And in a cloud that “overshadows” the Ark of the Covenant, where God’s presence is. Like in Luke’s Gospel when the Holy Spirit “overshadows” Mary and God is then present within her womb. The Shekinah glory of God in the Old Testament. We see this cloud of God’s glory at the Transfiguration, as well.

Elisa on April 28, 2014 at 2:03 PM

“And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Question about the above quoted scripture. What is the significance of “ he breathed on them” in this passage? For some reason those four words popped out at me and I wonder if they have a greater meaning; that I can’t seem to figure out.

Thanks to Ed for this thread every week. Still reading and learning.

HonestLib on April 28, 2014 at 9:49 AM

Jesus breathing on them was Jesus giving them His Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit.

Greek – Matthew 28:19.
“baptizontes autous eis to onoma tou patros kai tou uiou kai tou agiou pneumatos

Because the Greek word “Pneumatos,” which is used for the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of God in the Bible is more like “breathed” or “wind.” Similar to the Hebrew word used in the Old Testament for the “spirit” of God – “ruach” – translated “breath” or “wind” or “spirit.” This word is similar to the Peshitta (the Syriac Bible – Syriac came from Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke) “rokha,” also “breath” or “wind” or “spirit.”

In Latin the word “Spiritus” means the same thing. Other languages translate it from that, like Spanish, Espiritu Santo.

Like when we say that the Bible (the Word of God) is God breathed. Like when there was a wind at Pentecost. At Pentecost the Lord sent His Spirit to them again, this time the fullness of the Holy Spirit, for a particular purpose.

In the Exodus we see the wind of God part the waters of the Red Sea. We see Throughout the Old and New Testament, we see the power of God, the Spirit of God in the form of wind.

There is another Hebrew word for breathe that is also used. Can’t remember it. That one is used in Genesis when God breathed life into man. Like Murphy9 said, God’s breath is also life to us. His spirit is life to us.

Both Hebrew words are used in the Old Testament, books and Psalms, one meaning God’s life force, the other His Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is breathe. The breathe of God. God the Son and God the Holy Spirit precede from the Father. And this is the form that the 3rd Person of the Trinity often takes, breathe, wind, etc. We are filled with the breath of God.

In the Old Testament we also see the Spirit of God in fire, just like at Pentecost. And in a cloud that “overshadows” the Ark of the Covenant, where God’s presence is. Like in Luke’s Gospel when the Holy Spirit “overshadows” Mary and God is then present within her womb. The Shekinah glory of God in the Old Testament. We see this cloud of God’s glory at the Transfiguration, as well.

Elisa on April 28, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Well, that stinks – had a whole comment written out only for the site to crash on me. While I appreciate the inclusion of this section on HA, there is sadly a lot of misinformation being posted.

So here’s the readers digest version:

1) Both saving grace and faith are a gift of God (Ephesians 2:5), so none of the disciples had true faith until receiving the Holy Spirit after Christ’s ascension. The same holds true for us who claim to be saved, our faith itself is a gift from God, making our salvation even more amazing when you think about it. Seems people skip right over the words Jesus says to Thomas after his declaration – “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Consider that the disciples had the privilege of being directly taught by Jesus Himself over a period of three years, yet their faith was only revealed after Pentecost in Acts 2. The change in the disciples was night and day wasn’t it? Look at the conversion of Paul – same idea. In fact, Paul is the one who through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, points out that the child of a God is a new creation!

2) Anyone who claims to be saved is a saint! There is nothing more disturbing that seeing people buy into something as insidious as the idea that you are NOT a saint! Saints are not made through the Catholic church. They are made solely on the basis of the perfect work of Christ on the cross. Scripture is rife with references that point to the quality of ALL believers in Christ, and there is most certainly no support for the idea of clergy as we see it today. If you are saved – and I use that term specifically in the sense that you, through the work of the Holy Spirit, realize you are a sinner in desparate need of a Savior, then my friend, you are a saint! You are a co-heir with Christ Himself as you read in Romans 8, that you are accepted in the Beloved as you read in Ephesians 1. I could go on and on, but the heart of the issue is that you ARE a saint. The challenge is whether you’re living up to the salvation you’ve been called to! Now if I misinterpreted the positions of Ed and other responses on here, do let me know.

3) We’re not on some search to find God. The most unique aspect of Christianity is that its entire premise is on a God who wants you and not the other way around! Romans 3 spells out in heartbreaking detail just how hopeless we are without God. When you realize that, you find out just how precious your salvation is! If you claim to be saved, understand that it’s not because of you or anything you brought to the table but entirely because of God and His desire to save and have a relationship with you!

Please understand that none of the above should be taken as an attack on anyone or seen as antagnostic. Rather, it is in the interest of having a healthy discussion on the truths of Scripture!

ImmigrantConservative on April 28, 2014 at 11:54 AM

I take your comments in the spirit they were intended, as a discussion, not an attack. I hope you don’t mind me explaining what Catholics believe.

On point #1: At least St. John had true faith even before Pentecost. The Gospel said that when he entered the tomb after St. Peter, He “saw and believed.”

We don’t know if all the Apostles at that point in time had true faith. St. Peter made his proclamation of faith before the crucifixion, “you are the Christ, the Son of God,” yet he denied Our Lord.

We all do that. We may have true faith, by the grace of God, but we are still weak at times, when we do not rely on Him. We stumble and fall. We doubt. I have very strong faith, yet I have moments. St. Thomas may have believed Jesus was the Messiah, the Savior, yet did not yet believe in the Resurrection. We don’t know if he had true faith, even when he doubted or not. Only God knows what was in his heart and mind.

We don’t know. But certainly at Pentecost, all was revealed to them and they were filled with the Holy Spirit anew and in a profound and powerful way that sustained them and gave them strength.

We need to keep receiving His graces to “run the race.” We stumble and fall and need His grace to sustain us. We are saved, we are being saved, we will be saved. It is not a done deal at a moment in time. It is all these at the same time.

That all goes to point #3 as well. Yes, His grace if freely given and not earned or merited or deserved. We accept and cooperate with His grace. You are right, we are hopeless without God. And you are right, He comes for us.

On point #2: Our mission on earth is to strive to be saints, by His grace. To be “holy ones.” We can be “holy ones” “saints” now. Sometimes we are in a state of grace. But we fall and stumble and need His grace and forgiveness to recover. At those fallen moments, we are not “holy.”

In Heaven there are many saints. Holy ones. We don’t know all their names. I’m sure many of us know of deceased family and friends who we believe are probably with the Lord now as saints in Heaven. The canonized Saints, are the only ones that we know publicly are saints by name, it has been revealed to us by the Holy Spirit through the Church, through miracles.

That’s the only difference. Some we know for sure and some we don’t. And you are right, the Church does not make Saints. That is by the grace of God. But God reveals some Saints through the Church.

God bless you and all here.

Elisa on April 28, 2014 at 2:27 PM

“And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Question about the above quoted scripture. What is the significance of “ he breathed on them” in this passage? For some reason those four words popped out at me and I wonder if they have a greater meaning; that I can’t seem to figure out.

Thanks to Ed for this thread every week. Still reading and learning.

HonestLib on April 28, 2014 at 9:49 AM

.
Jesus breathing on them was Jesus giving them His Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit.

Elisa on April 28, 2014 at 2:06 PM

.
My take on Jesus breathing on them, is that Jesus was simultaneously :

1) – Giving them rebirth (I prefer to think of it as re-conception). Or in other words, that’s when the disciples who were present at that moment became what we call “born again”.

2) – recreating the Genesis 2:7 experience, in order to cause or bring about #1, above.

Jesus’ physical body was the only … source of the Holy Spirit in the earth, right at that moment.
They had to wait until the day of Pentecost, before the Holy Spirit came (or “fell”) upon all flesh, and resided over the face of the whole earth.

listens2glenn on April 28, 2014 at 7:14 PM

listens2glenn on April 28, 2014 at 7:14 PM

I want to make sure I am understanding you correctly.

Besides what you said, you do believe that Jesus gave the Apostles the Holy Spirit that day in John’s Gospel, right? Then at Pentecost they received the Holy Spirit anew, this time the fullness of the Holy Spirit for a particular purpose?

Because it’s really not up to different interpretations as to whether or not Jesus gave them the Holy Spirit in some form or not at all.

He did. At least in some form.

Jesus said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” And then He breathed the Spirit on them. Right?

The Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit. Only one.

Elisa on April 28, 2014 at 8:45 PM

Well, that stinks – had a whole comment written out only for the site to crash on me. While I appreciate the inclusion of this section on HA, there is sadly a lot of misinformation being posted.

ImmigrantConservative on April 28, 2014 at 11:54 AM

That happened to me several times when I first started writing things online. It’s very frustrating.

What I learned to do, is write what I want to say in my Word file first, then paste it into the comment box.

Elisa on April 28, 2014 at 8:54 PM

1) Both saving grace and faith are a gift of God (Ephesians 2:5), so none of the disciples had true faith until receiving the Holy Spirit after Christ’s ascension. The same holds true for us who claim to be saved, our faith itself is a gift from God, making our salvation even more amazing when you think about it. Seems people skip right over the words Jesus says to Thomas after his declaration – “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Our salvation is indeed amazing!

However, whether and to what degree the disciples had true faith is not clearly delineated in scripture – so far as I can tell – so to say they did not have it is bit of speculation. That they could not have had faith already though is beyond speculation, if we believe the report of God’s word:

Hebrews 11 
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good report. 3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. 
5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 
6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. 
7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. 
8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 
9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 
11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them,and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

I certainly appreciate this:

Please understand that none of the above should be taken as an attack on anyone or seen as antagnostic. Rather, it is in the interest of having a healthy discussion on the truths of Scripture!
ImmigrantConservative on April 28, 2014 at 11:54 AM

…and hope that my comments are likewise received.

questionmark on April 28, 2014 at 9:22 PM

listens2glenn on April 28, 2014 at 7:14 PM

OT l2g, but I was finally able to follow up on the big bang thread, in case you want to check it out.

questionmark on April 28, 2014 at 9:24 PM

listens2glenn on April 28, 2014 at 7:14 PM

.
OT l2g, but I was finally able to follow up on the big bang thread, in case you want to check it out.

questionmark on April 28, 2014 at 9:24 PM

.
I got it … and thank you. But why didn’t you post a ‘link’?

I had to go dig through the @!!*#!!%@#! Hotair vault to find it !

.
Poll: Majority of Americans not too confident in Big Bang theory

listens2glenn on April 29, 2014 at 1:15 PM