How fitting it is, as we continue to live our lives in lockdown, that the gospel of today begins with that sombre phrase : the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were. Not once, but twice, as if to drive home the point, does the evangelist, tells us this and it resonates. What though can we learn from this? Two thoughts come to my mind.
The first is this. Being in lockdown is no barrier to the gospel and its effect. Jesus speaks words of peace when he appears. His first words to the community after his resurrection are "Peace be with you." They are words of deep assurance and comfort, words which we need to hear and understand in these difficult times. The community of the disciples is now the community of the Church. The community which was formed at the foot of the cross, when Jesus gathered the Beloved disciple and his Mother to each other, is now marked as a community of peace. As a result, the community is filled with joy. This peace overcomes the sense of fear that pervaded the disciples following the crucifixion. They had abandoned Jesus and yet they are now reconciled to him, restored and forgiven. Although the doors of our Church buildings are closed, the church herself remains fully at work and open to the Spirit which Jesus has bequeathed to every baptised person. We should therefore understand that the Spirit is free to proceed where God wills and allow that feeling of joy to touch each one of us, and even though we may be restricted physically by the constraints we are having to live with, spiritually through our prayers we can still feel united and connected.
My second thought is this. Thomas was absent from the community when the Risen Lord appeared. Anecdotal evidence seems to be indicating that many people who would not normally come into Church on a Sunday, have during the lockdown, been accessing the internet and following the Mass via the live streaming facility. Is there a new area of ministry for us within this context? Can we use this moment as one in which the Church can reach out to them in a reconciling and welcoming way? When Jesus comes to Thomas he shows him his wounds and he invites Thomas to place his own wounded self into his risen body, to allow the wounds of the resurrection to begin a process of healing and restoration. For Thomas this was a moment of deep significance and revelation, such that his faith was confirmed.
Every eighth day the Lord comes. May these moments be ones of peace and joy and for us all. May they also be moments of deep revelation and renewal, even when the doors remain closed in the rooms where we are.