, ,


John 20 19-31

Shut doors and darkened minds open our reading (Peter Chrysologus), and how often are we in that state? But the Lord does not delay in comforting his followers. Even though they have barred the doors and are frightened, he comes through these barriers to them and enters their hearts. His appearance gives us (Augustine) a foretaste of what our resurrected bodies will be like. The same body that entered the world through the closed door of the Virgin’s womb, now enters the locked room – as he will enter the locked chamber of our heart (Gregory the Great).

Christ stands among them as true God (Gregory of Nyssa) and with death’s power broken for ever by his rising from the dead (Cyril of Alexandria). We see his peace breathed into them (Maximus the Confessor), and that peace is ever a sign of his presence with us. That it is his body he shows by infallible signs of the marks made on it (Irenaeus), although, as we see from the difficulty some had recognising him, there is something about the glorified body which is different (Jerome). The wounds that heal us also heal unbelieving hearts, and we see here he is both divine and human (Leo the Great).

Jesus brings comfort to those who were sorrowing, and he commissions them to go and preach his message of repentance and love – even though they, too, must expect persecution (Peter Chysologus, Gregory the Great). He prepares them to receive even more of the Spirit. He give them the Spirit more than once after his resurrection, and the Spirit will descend upon them again at Pentecost when they manifest its power (Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine). This was he second breathing of the Spirit, the first, in Genesis had been stifled by sin, but this second breathing would not be stifled (St Cyril).

The Spirit is the breath of God (Cyril of Jerusalem) and is the Son’t to give (Athanasius). All the authority of the Apostles is vested in them and their successors by Christ, and their unity and that of the church is traced back to the one Lord (Cyprian).

Forgiveness is given by the Spirit through all of Christ;s Apostle who received his authority to do so (Theodore of Mopsuestia). They can forgive only what God forgives (Origen). They are given great strength and power, but with this comes huge responsibility (Cyril, Chysostom, Gregory the Great).

Thomas’s doubting is because he was not there, and is for our benefit (Bede, Gregory the Great). Though he was absent he still received the benefit of the Spirit. The Fathers agree that Thomas provides the Evangelist with the chance to answer the questions many who heard the story of the Resurrection would ask – how could they know it was not a vision, but a reality? He came among them on the eighth day – a practice the Church continues as it receives him then in the Eucharist (Cyril of Jerusalem). He shows to all that this is real body, with the marks of the crucifixion and torture upon it (Chrysostom, Theodoret). The touching of the wounds proves beyond doubt it is the resurrected Christ (Gregory of Nyssa). So we, like Thomas, who were not there, can stop doubting and believe (Gregory of Nazianzus). Jesus leads Thomas to the perfect confession of faith (Athanasius) ‘My Lord and my God’. The overwhelming consensus among the Fathers is that whilst he saw Christ’s flesh, Thomas also confessed his divinity.

We see throughout Christ’s pateince and love – our faith rests on that and on more than the eye can see (Cyril, Leo).