This reflection is adapted from an Easter reflection from our online Holy Week Retreat.
Just a little over a week ago, when he was told the incredible news that the disciples had seen the Lord, Thomas did not hesitate to set his conditions for believing: “Unless I see and touch his wounds,
I will not believe.”
When the Risen Lord showed up the next time around, he didn’t castigate Thomas. I suspect that if we had been the Lord, we would have done exactly that: “Seriously, Thomas? How dare you…?!”
But instead our Lord greeted Thomas with peace and immediately delivered the conditions that Thomas had set, inviting him to believe:
“Put your finger here, and see my hands. Put out your hand,
and place it in my side.”
The usual takeaway from this Gospel story is that all of us are invited to believe in Jesus without the benefit of seeing and touching Him.
When you think about it, contrary to we often think, such is, in fact, the nature of faith. Faith does not mean being 100% sure. It’s the exact opposite: Faith means trusting and committing to someone precisely because we don’t have 100% certainty. If we had the benefit of certainty,
strictly speaking, that would be knowledge, and we would have no need to exercise our faith.
Given the pandemic that the world is going through, however, this encounter between Thomas and the Risen Lord takes on new significance. More than ever, we have become mindful of the need for personal hygiene and social distancing to avoid infection.
Some people, in fact, have become obsessed by their fear of infection that they are willing to do almost anything for it. Health workers in a hospital in Ireland started to wash their hands with floor cleaner because they had been robbed of their hand sanitizers!
Our Lord was never afraid of infections. He did not let them get in the way of helping people. Against every medical wisdom during his time, with his bare and loving hands, he touched lepers while everyone else refused to touch them. And instead of getting infected, he healed them.
But we also saw that on the cross–as foreshadowed by Isaiah in the Suffering Servant of Yahweh–our Lord became a virtual leper himself,
exhibiting all the attributes of one who was infected, and eliciting all the usual repulsions from people who did not want to catch the infection.
On his cross, Jesus allowed himself to be infected with the ravages of our sins in order to heal us and save us from sin.
Given all that, having Thomas touch his wounds was unthinkable.
As we know all too well these days, that’s a huge no-no. Keep you distance from those who have been infected–much less, stick your finger into their wounds.
But that’s exactly what the Risen Lord invited Thomas to do. But the result of such physical contact with the Lord was not spiritual infection, but in fact, spiritual inoculation and healing.
It’s almost as if our Lord allowed himself to get infected
in order to develop the spiritual antibodies to combat the virus of sin.
If we draw close to him and touch his wounds, he will disinfect us,
offering us a protection from the pandemic of sin. Just like a vaccine, the Risen Lord will help us strengthen our spiritual immunity.
For this reason, we should, in fact, refrain from any spiritual distancing from Jesus. Against the usual medical advice, we ought to stay close to him, and expose ourselves to the Lord for our much-needed spiritual disinfection.
What can you do today to draw closer to the Lord and to get into contact with him?
On this Divine Mercy Sunday, let us pray to the Lord to have mercy on the world.