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April 17, 1998     The Message
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April 17, 1998

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16 The Message m for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana i,i,  Thomas the twin: Doubt and fa By FATHER DONALD DILGER Columnist Gospel Commentary for April 19, 1998: Second Sunday. Of Easter: Cycle C: John 20:19-31 The first part of today's goslel reading relates Jesus first appearance to his disciples after his resur- rection. This follows his appearance and commission- ing of Mary Magdalene to be the first to proclaim the resurrection. Jesus sent her to his disciples who are portrayed as gathering behind barred doors because they were afraid of the ruling clique responsible in part for Jesus' death. Jesus suddenly stands among them, although the doors were still barred. He greets them with a "Shalom," then shows them the wounds or scars in his hands and in his side. He breathes upon them his own Spirit and commissions them to forgive or retain sins. This section of John is also the gospel for Pentecost Sunday. Let us postpone any explanation until that time. The second part of today's gospel relates the story of the disciple Thomas, one of the 12. John calls him "the Twin," in Greek, "Didymus." Although this term has other connotations than being born as one of twins, it has generally been understood that either Thomas had a twin brother or sister, or even that he was the twin brother of Jesus, perhaps in physical stature. Thomas was absent when Jesus appeared to his disciples behind barred doors on the day of his resurrection. When the other disciples tell him of the visit, he insisted that only "seeing is believing." He had to see the scars or wounds on Jesus and touch them. John begins the story of Jesus" second visit to the ples withthe words, ,eight days later," thus making this story the gospel of choice in ChurCh : ......... usage for the eighth day after Jesus' resurrection. This Sunday used to be called "Low Sunday' in contrast to the solemnity of Easter Sunday. Now it is called "the Second Sunday of Easter." This time Thomas is pre- sent when Jesus appears again behind barred doors. The Gospel of John has throughout referred to the more than natural knowledge of Jesus and does the same here. Jesus already knows all about Thomas insistence on "seeing is believing." He invites him to touch his wounds and to be not unbelieving but believing. We are not told by the gospel if Thomas complied. John is interested only in Thomas' great statement of faith. Thomas' answer to Jesus, "My Lord and my God!" Then Jesus gently scolds Thomas for his former stubbornness and pronounces a bless- ing on those who believe in him without seeing him. In all the gospels there is some kind of wavering or unbelief after Jesus' resurrection. In Mark the, women, faithful to the end,'now flee from the tomb and fail in their commission to report Jesus' resurrec- tion. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus has to eat fish in front of the disciples (for breakfast yet!) to prove that he is real. Matthew notes that even when the disci- ples met Jesus in Galilee at the mountain of the ascen- sion, "they worshiped him, but some doubted." John had noted earlier in chapter 20 how Peter had seen the empty tomb. In contrast to the "beloved disciple" who believed, Peter was clueless. Now Thomas becomes the ultimate example of Christians of all times who want to believe but need "proof." Faith, however, is a gift and not subject to proof. This must be why John does not portray Thomas touching Jesus' wounds to prove anything. Instead he makes an act of profound faith in the identity of Jesus as "Lord and God." John writes more than half a centu- ry after Jesus' resurrection. Christians of his time do not have the good fortune which the First Letter of John describes, when he writes of Jesus as "Word of life...which we have seen with our eyes .... looked upon and touched with ( Christians of all later times that elevates them to the dignity of "Blessed are those who have believe!" Perhaps even more perhaps the humanity of Jesus touched, would have been as humanity as is the humanity Christians? Sometimes people are , believe in at a distance! The third conclusion before chapter purpose of John's gospel. The Jesus did many other "signs" in disciples, deeds not written in important statement for the in early Christianity, word of mouth. The New the exclusive bearer of the tradition of the Church is of existed before anything was of written tradition in tinued to develop. John's closing statement his book, "that you may believe siah, the Son of God, and that may have life by his name." Clearly; intention of writing other gospels, is a catechism. It responds to various q Christians at the end of the faith in Jesus and ning to end John has told his mission was, and the proper Jan to Jesus. Thomas has the response, "My Lord and my Readings: Acts 5:12-16; 13, 17-19. Golden Jubilarians George H. and Mary Lou (Mayer) Fehrenbacher will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a Mass of Thanksgiving at 10:30 a.m. April 25 at St. Wendel Church, St. Wendel. A recep- tion will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. at Armstrong Recreation Cen- ter, Hwy. 65 and Baseline Rd. Friends and relatives are invited; the couple requests no gifts. They were married April 27,1948, at Sacred Heart Church, Evansville. They are the parents of Judy Gries, Doris Duncan, Karla Tieken, all of Evansville, Carol Wils- bacher of Haubstadt, and Wayne Fehrenbacher and George Fehrenbacher, both of Evansville. They have 13 grandchildren_, and two great-grandchildren. Mr. Fehrenbacher retired from Deig Brothers Construction in 1989. Mrs. Fehrenbacher is a home- maker. Golden Jubilarians Robert and Alice (Meth) Schaefer of Evansville will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary with an Open House fr6m I to 4 p.m. April 26 at their home. No invitations have been sent; friends are invited. The couple requests no gifts. They were mar- ried April 27, 1948, at St. Joseph Church, Evansville. They are the parents of three sons, Ronald, Timothy and Kent, all of Evans- ville. They have two grandchildren. Mr. Schaefer is retired from Great Scot Supermarkets. He also worked for A & P Tea Com- pany. Mrs. Schaefer works at CVS/Revco Drugs. She also worked forA& P. The 'G ,/ On Ma over,1