Our first reading gives us a wonderful description of the early Church. Few in number the first Christians would gather in one another’s homes to listen to the teachings of the Apostles, to support one another in fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayers. Being Jewish they still went to the Temple to pray. They cared for those in need by sharing their possessions with others. These were the ideal days of Christian community. There were no mega churches of big parishes where people get lost in numbers.
Our gospel is famous for our doubting Thomas, the one who would not take the words or others but had to see for himself. “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the mark of the nails and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’
The other disciples had gathered together behind locked doors for fear of the authorities. They were sure they would be next. The authorities were determined to stamp out any of those who were associated with this trouble maker from Galilee. They had every reason to fear. So they hung together. They needed each other’s presence and support. Thomas made the mistake of thinking he could handle this disaster that shattered his life and the lives of the others by himself. He needed to be alone to sort out what happened on Friday. How was it possible that the people turned on Jesus so quickly, so viciously? How quickly they forgot the wonderful things he taught, how quickly they forgot the wonders he worked for them, giving sight to the blind, making the dumb speak, making the lame walk. How could they forget Lazarus? Thomas needed his own space, he needed time alone to ponder and grieve. Again, Thomas’s mistake was in trying to cope with all this just by himself. He forgot that his past three years had been lived in a community of friends and fellow learners of Jesus. He had learned from Jesus’ life and example in the company of others. They shared times of joy and times of confusion together. Thomas failed to realize he needed his company of friends now more than ever. Isolating himself from friends he missed the Risen Christ.
Thomas can be a lesson to all of us. We need one another, we need family and friends, we need the community of believers we call Church. The life and death of each of us has it influence on others. We cannot go through life untouched or untouching. We need others to share in our joys; we need others to support us when life unravels. Life cannot be lived in isolation.
There is a saying that there are two things in life we cannot do alone – get married and be a Christian. Christian means community, Christian means togetherness. As it was in the beginning, is now and will be forever, to face the joys and struggles of life we need to gather, we need to pray, we need to break the bread, we need to prayer and we need to share.
Thomas would say to all of us, being a loner doesn’t cut it.