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St John 20:19-31

Chrysostom records that it was evening in more than the literal sense, for the disciples’ minds were clouded by grief. Jesus now appears to them, and not even the locked doors can stop him; may it be so with the locked doors of our hearts. His appearance gives us a foretaste of what our resurrected bodies will be like. He stands among them, as Gregory of Nyssa remarks, as God, with, St Cyril tells us, death finally vanquished; His greeting breathes into them the spirit of tranquillity which is the Holy Spirit. St Cyril tells us that the peace He offers is Himself, because He is peace. Irenaeus comments that by showing them the physical marks on His body, He is showing that it really is His body which has risen. Leo the Great comments that the wounds which brought us healing, also bring it to unbelieving hearts. He is truly both human and divine.

Chrysologus comments on how Jesus sends forth the disciples in love on the great commission. They are not, St Cyril remarks, to follow their own will, but that of the Father. Gregory the Great reminds us that the disciples will face great persecution. Gregory of Nazianzus reminds us that the Lord is preparing them to receive the Spirit at Pentecost. The Spirit is the Son’s to give, and, St Athanasius reminds, He gives them the power to remit sins; the powers He gave them then inhere, St Cyprian reminds us, in His Church through the successors of the Apostles.

Gregory the Great tells us that it was our benefit that St Thomas was not present. The Divine Marcy ordained that he would play the part of so many of us and refuse to believe unless he saw for himself. He proves to the disciples and to us that He really was risen in the flesh. St Gregory Nazianzus sees Thomas as the type for all those who want to believe but need to see. St Athanasius points out that Thomas’ doubt leads to one of the most telling confessions of Christ’s divinity – ‘My Lord, my God’. So although all Thomas sees is the flesh, he confesses the divinity through faith. St Leo asks us to take comfort here, for our faith, too, rests on more than the eyes can see. St Cyril comments on the patience Jesus shows with Thomas, that same patience He shows to us all; and He offers us the comfort that those who believe and yet do not see are also blessed.

St Irenaeus comments that John does not need to write everything, but what he writes here is to combat the heresies he foresaw would arise; we are to believe as Thomas did, that He is risen in the flesh and is truly God. If we believe that, we shall come to eternal life in Him