Chủ Nhật, 2 tháng 7, 2017

JULY 03, 2017 : FEAST OF SAINT THOMAS, APOSTLE

Feast of Saint Thomas, Apostle
Lectionary: 593

Reading 1EPH 2:19-22
Brothers and sisters:
You are no longer strangers and sojourners,
but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones
and members of the household of God, 
built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets,
with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.
Through him the whole structure is held together
and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord;
in him you also are being built together
into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Responsorial PsalmPS 117:1BC, 2
R. (Mark 16:15) Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
Praise the LORD, all you nations;
glorify him, all you peoples!
R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
For steadfast is his kindness for us,
and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever. 
R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.

AlleluiaJN 20:29
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me, says the Lord;
blessed are those who have not seen, but still believe!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord."
But Thomas said to them,
"Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."
Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you."
Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe."
Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."


Meditation: "Do not be faithless - but believing"
What can give us unshakeable hope and confidence in the face of failure, defeat, and death? The apostles had abandoned Jesus in his hour of trial when he was betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemani by Judas and arrested by the Jewish authorities. Their fear turned to despair when Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, sentenced Jesus to death by crucifixion for his claim to be the King of the Jews. In that hour of darkness on "Good Friday" the apostles saw Jesus' death as defeat rather than victory.
From death and despair to joy and victory
On Sunday morning when they heard the reports from the women who saw the empty tomb, they were slow to believe that Jesus had risen as he prophesied to them previously. Their despair turn to joy when the Risen Lord at last appeared to them and showed them the scars of his victory - his pierced hands, feet, and side. Jesus had indeed triumphed over the enemies which held the human race in slavery to sin, Satan, and death.
The  last apostle to meet the resurrected Lord was the first to go with him to Jerusalem at Passover time. The apostle Thomas was a natural pessimist. When Jesus proposed that they visit Lazarus after receiving news of his illness, Thomas said to the disciples: "Let us also go, that we may die with him" (John 11:16). While Thomas deeply loved the Lord, he lacked the courage to stand with Jesus in his passion and crucifixion. After Jesus' death, Thomas made the mistake of withdrawing from the other apostles. He sought loneliness rather than fellowship in his time of sorrow and adversity. He doubted the women who saw the resurrected Jesus and he doubted his own fellow apostles who also testified that Jesus had risen.
When Thomas finally had the courage to rejoin the other apostles eight days later, the Lord Jesus made his presence known to him and reassured him that he had indeed overcome death and risen again. When Thomas recognized his Master, he believed and exclaimed that Jesus was truly Lord and truly God!
Through faith we meet the Risen Lord
Through the gift of faith we, too, are able to recognize the presence of the risen Lord in our personal lives. The Holy Spirit reveals the Lord Jesus to us and helps us to grow in knowledge and understanding of God and his ways. Through the gift of faith we are able to proclaim that Jesus is our personal Lord and our God. He died and rose that we, too, might have new life in him. The Lord offers each of us new life in his Holy Spirit that we may know him personally and walk in this new way of life through the power of his resurrection. Do you believe in God's word and in the power of the Holy Spirit?
"Lord Jesus Christ, through your victory over sin and death you have overcome all the powers of darkness. Help me to draw near to you and to trust in your life-giving word. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and strengthen my faith in your promises and my hope in the power of your resurrection."
Daily Quote from the early church fathersTouching the wounds of Christ and healing the wounds of our unbelief, by Gregory the Great (540-604 AD)
"It was not an accident that that particular disciple was not present. The divine mercy ordained that a doubting disciple should, by feeling in his Master the wounds of the flesh, heal in us the wounds of unbelief. The unbelief of Thomas is more profitable to our faith than the belief of the other disciples. For the touch by which he is brought to believe confirms our minds in belief, beyond all question." (excerpt from FORTY GOSPEL HOMILIES 26)

FEAST OF SAINT THOMAS, APOSTLE
MONDAY, JULY 3, JOHN 20:24-29

(Ephesians 2:19-22; Psalm 117)

KEY VERSE: Thomas answered and said to him, `My Lord and my God!' (v.28).
TO KNOW: After the crucifixion, Jesus' disciples gathered in the upper room behind locked doors, in fear that they too would be killed. Thomas, was absent when the Risen Christ appeared to them. Although Thomas was present at the raising of Lazarus, and even stated his willingness to go to Jerusalem and there "die with the Lord" (Jn 11:16, he refused to believe the testimony of the disciples without visible proof. A week later, Thomas was with the disciples when suddenly Christ appeared to them again with a greeting of peace (Hebrew, Shalom). Jesus showed Thomas the wounds of his crucifixion and asked him not to persist in disbelief. At this, Thomas became convinced of the truth of the Resurrection and exclaimed: "My Lord and My God" (20:28), thus making a public profession of faith in the Divinity of Christ. Jesus then offered a beatitude for all future generations: "Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed" (v.29).
TO LOVE: Do I allow the Lord to bring me to faith when I am fearful and doubtful?
TO SERVE: My Lord and my God, help me to believe even when I see no evidence for my faith.

SAINT THOMAS, APOSTLE

Thomas was probably born in Galilee, but there is no record as to how he became one of the Twelve Apostles of Christ His name in Greek is Didymus, which means "the twin." Thomas is best remembered for his doubt that Christ had actually risen from the dead. This incident gave rise to the expression "doubting Thomas." Thomas was also present at another Resurrection appearance of Jesus - at Lake Tiberias when a miraculous catch of fish occurred. This is all that we know about Thomas from the New Testament. The Acta Thomae, an apocryphal writing from the 3rd or 4th century, recounts the missionary efforts of Thomas. At the dispersal of the Apostles after Pentecost Thomas was sent to evangelize the Parthians, Medes, and Persians. He ultimately reached India, carrying the faith to the Malabar Coast, which still boasts a large population that calls themselves "Christians of Saint Thomas." Thomas shed his blood for his Master, speared to death at a place called Calamine. Thomas is the patron of architects. 


Monday 3 July 2017

St Thomas.
Ephesians 2:19-22. Psalm 116(117). John 20:24-29.
Go out to all the world and tell the Good News — Psalm 116(117).
‘Peace be with you.’
The Gospels make no attempt to gloss over the flaws of the Apostles. Nevertheless, it seems that it is Thomas whose character remains unredeemed in the popular imagination. Peter denied Jesus three times; James and John both demonstrated vengefulness and a lust for power; yet it is ‘Doubting Thomas’ who seems forever defined by his scepticism! It is a pity, because we can readily empathise with Thomas’ attitude as we wrestle daily with our own doubts and fears. We can take comfort in the fact that Jesus does not scold Thomas for his disbelief. Indeed, in the midst of doubt, Jesus offers peace.
Our encounter with the risen Lord brings about peace in our own lives, but Jesus invites us to discover the source of that peace: the cross. He asks us to enter the wounded world, and help others experience Christ in the midst of their own suffering and doubts.


ST. THOMAS, APOSTLE

On July 3, the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Thomas the Apostle. Best known for his initial unwillingness to believe the other apostles in their claim that Jesus had risen from the dead, St. Thomas can teach the faithful about believing without seeing.
As an apostle, Thomas was dedicated to following the Lord. Upon hearing that Jesus was returning to Judea, an area that would pose dangers due to the growing animosity of the authorities there, he immediately said to the other apostles, "Let us also go, that we may die with him" (Jn 11: 16).
Yet despite this determination, Thomas proved not only too weak to stand beside Jesus as he faced his crucifixion, but also doubted the Lord’s Resurrection when he was told about it by the other apostles. Denying their story, he told them, "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe" (Jn 20: 25).
A week later, Christ appeared and said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe."  When Thomas did so he exclaimed, "My Lord and my God!"
In his general audience on September 27, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of St. Thomas, explaining that we can learn from his doubts, which show us "that Jesus can now be recognized by his wounds rather than by his face."
"The Apostle Thomas’ case is important to us for at least three reasons," said the Pope.  "First, because it comforts us in our insecurity; second, because it shows us that every doubt can lead to an outcome brighter than any uncertainty; and, lastly, because the words that Jesus addressed to him remind us of the true meaning of mature faith and encourage us to persevere, despite the difficulty, along our journey of adhesion to him."
After Pentecost, St. Thomas is traditionally believed to have preached the Good News to the Persians and Medes, until he reached India, where he evangelized and was eventually martyred in 72 A.D.
St. Thomas’ feast day is July 3, and he is the patron of architects and builders.

LECTIO DIVINA: ST. THOMAS, AP - JN. 20,24-29
Lectio Divina: 
 Monday, July 3, 2017
Ordinary Time

1) OPENING PRAYER
Father,
you call your children
to walk in the light of Christ.
Free us from darkness
and keep us in the radiance of your truth.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) GOSPEL READING - JOHN 20,24-29
Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, 'We have seen the Lord,' but he answered, 'Unless I can see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.'
Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. 'Peace be with you,' he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Do not be unbelieving any more but believe.'
Thomas replied, 'My Lord and my God!' Jesus said to him: You believe because you can see me. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.
3) REFLECTION
• Today is the Feast of Saint Thomas and the Gospel speaks to us about the encounter of Jesus with Thomas, the apostle who wanted to see in order to believe.  For this reason many call him Thomas the incredulous.   In reality the message of this Gospel is very diverse.  It is much more profound and actual.
• John 20, 24-25: The doubt of Thomas. Thomas, one of the twelve was not present when Jesus appeared to the disciples the week before.  He did not believe in the witness of the others who said: “We have seen the Lord”.  He gives some conditions: “Unless I can see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe”.  Thomas is very demanding.  In order to believe he wants to see!  He does not want a miracle in order to believe. No!  He wants to see the signs on the hands, on the feet and on the side!  He does not believe in the glorious Jesus, separated from the human Jesus who suffered on the Cross.  When John writes, at the end of the first century, there were some persons who did not accept the coming of the Son of God in the flesh (2 Jn 7; 1 Jn 4, 2-3).  They were the Gnostics who despised matter and the body. John presents this concern of Thomas to criticize the Gnostics: “To see in order to believe”. The doubt of Thomas also makes us see the difficulty of believing in the Resurrection! 
• John 20, 26-27: Do not be unbelieving but believe.  The text says “six days later”. That means that Thomas was capable of maintaining his opinion during a whole week against the witness of the other Apostles. Stubborn! Thank God, for us! Thus, six days later, during the community meeting, they once again had the profound experience of the presence of the risen Lord in their midst.  The closed doors could not prevent the presence of Jesus in the midst of those who believe in him. Today, it is also like this.  When we are meeting, even when we are meeting with the doors closed, Jesus is in our midst.  And up until today, the first word of Jesus is and will always be: “Peace be with you!” What impresses is the kindness of Jesus.  He does not criticize, nor does he judge the unbelief of Thomas, but he accepts the challenge and says: “Thomas, put your finger in the hole of my hands!” Jesus confirms the conviction of Thomas and of the communities, that is, the glorious Risen One is the tortured crucified One! The Jesus who is in the community is not a glorious Jesus who has nothing in common with our life. He is the same Jesus who lived on this earth and on his body he has the signs of his Passion. The signs of the Passion are found today in the sufferings of people, in hunger, in the signs of torture, of injustice. And Jesus becomes present in our midst in the persons who react, who struggle for life and who do not allow themselves to be disheartened. Thomas believes in this Christ and so do we! 
• John 20, 28-29: Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. Together with him we say: “My Lord and my God!” This gift of Thomas is the ideal attitude of faith. And Jesus completes with a final message: “You believe because you can see me. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe!”  With this phrase, Jesus declares blessed all of us who find ourselves in the same condition: without having seen, we believe that Jesus, who is in our midst, is the same One who died crucified! 
The mandate: “As the Father sent me so I am sending you!” From this Jesus, who was crucified and rose from the dead, we receive the mission, the same one which he has received from the Father (Jn 20, 21).  Here, in the second apparition, Jesus repeats: “Peace be with you!”  This repetition stresses the importance of Peace.  To construct peace forms part of the mission.  Peace means much more than the absence of war. It means to construct a harmonious human living together in which persons can be themselves, having everything necessary to live, living happily together in peace.  This was the mission of Jesus and also our own mission.  Jesus breathed and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn 20, 22).  And with the help of the Holy Spirit we will be capable to fulfil the mission which he has entrusted to us. Then Jesus communicates the power to forgive sins: “If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained!”  The central point of the mission of peace is reconciliation, in the effort of trying to overcome barriers which separate us. This power of reconciling and of forgiving is given to the community (Jn 20, 23); Mt18, 18).  In the Gospel of Matthew, this power is also given to Peter (Mt 16, 19).  Here we can perceive that a community without pardon and without reconciliation is not a Christian community. In one word, our mission is that of “forming community” according to the example of the community of the Father, of the Son and the Holy Spirit.   
4) PERSONAL QUESTIONS
• In society today the divergence and the tensions of race, social class, religion, gender and culture are enormous and they continue to grow every day. How can the mission of reconciliation be carried out today? 
• In your community and in your family is there some mustard seed, the sign of a reconciled society? 
5) CONCLUDING PRAYER
Praise Yahweh, all nations,
extol him, all peoples,
for his faithful love is strong
and his constancy never-ending. (Ps 117)