THE SEVENFOLD BLESSINGS THE RISEN LORD GIVES US

THE SEVENFOLD BLESSINGS THE RISEN LORD GIVES US

Fr Luke A Veronis

"Thomas, have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."

Many of us can probably relate to the Apostle Thomas with his doubts and uncertainty of the Resurrection. His fellow disciples encountered the Risen Jesus on the first night that He rose from the dead. Thomas wasn’t there and just couldn’t believe the impossible. How could the person he saw crucified and tortuously killed and buried in the tomb be alive? As much as he hoped, he found it quite difficult to believe. And a week goes by until He actually meets the Risen Lord himself, when Jesus says to him:

"Thomas, have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."

Well, for most of us, we would be in the category of “those who have not seen and yet believe.” Note, Christ calls us blessed even if we have not seen and yet believe that Jesus rose from the dead! Yet, how will we be blessed? Jesus’ post-resurrectional encounter with the Apostle Thomas in today’s Gospel story reveals seven ways that Thomas, and we, can be blessed by the Risen Lord:

1.    The Risen Christ took away Thomas’ fear and gave him peace.

2.    The Risen Christ took away Thomas’ doubt and gave him faith

3.    The Risen Christ took away Thomas’ confusion and gave him purpose

4.    The Risen Christ took away Thomas’ sense of feeling alone and gave him the comfort of the Holy Spirit

5.    The Risen Christ took away Thomas’ sins and then gave him the deep responsibility to forgive or retain the sins of others

6.    The Risen Christ took away Thomas’ ignorance and enlightened his minds with divine wisdom

7.    The Risen Christ took away Thomas’ temporary earthly existence and gave him eternal life

Let’s think about these seven blessings! Just as Thomas was blessed by encountering the Risen Lord, we also “who have not seen and yet believe” can also be blessed sevenfold when we choose to believe! Think about these seven blessings:

1.    The Risen Christ took away Thomas’ fear and gave him peace!

The first words of Jesus to His followers were “Peace be with you.” He repeats this blessing of peace twice. We can recall our Lord’s words when He promised, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not let them be afraid.” Always remember that Christ is the Prince of Peace. When we turn toward Him, we discover a “peace that passes all understanding.” No fear, anxiety, worry, nor cares of this life should ever overwhelm us. The Risen Lord is with us and He gives us peace!

2.    The Risen Christ took away Thomas’ doubt and gave him faith!

Thomas struggled to believe the unbelievable. Thus, when the Risen Lord meets him, He states, “Thomas, Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side; do not be faithless, but believing." Thomas had reasonable doubts and skepticism but he was open to discover something new. And his openness led him to transform his doubts to a deeper faith. Let us always stay open to learn and grow, seeking for answers to our questions and uncertainties in faith!

3.    The Risen Christ took away Thomas’ confusion and gave him purpose!

Thomas was uncertain about what he was hearing, and unsure about whether he could believe. Yet, Jesus responds to his uncertainty and confusion by revealing Himself to His disciple, and then giving him a serious responsibility. “As the Father sent me, so I send you into the world.” Go into all the world and become my ambassador proclaiming the Good News of my Resurrection. Let all people know they can become a new creation when they come to believe in me and live in the light of my Resurrection! For all of us, Christ gives us the same sacred purpose and deep meaning for our lives. We are His ambassadors; we are divine instruments in His hands sharing His light, joy, peace, and love to a world that is so lost and confused!

4.    The Risen Christ took away Thomas’ sense of feeling alone and gave him the Holy Spirit!

After Jesus blessed them with His peace, he then “breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.” The Risen Lord will never leave us alone. He promised to be with us always, even to the end of the age. And He sent His Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, to be our constant companion. Imagine, the divine Presence of God living in us!

5.    The Risen Christ took away Thomas’ sins and gave him the deep responsibility to forgive or retain the sins of others!

Jesus took the sins of the world upon Himself when He died on the Cross, yet this forgiveness of sins comes with serious consequences. We must forgive one another. When Jesus told His disciples, “If you retain the sins of any they are retained and if you forgive the sins of any they are forgiven,” He gives them the sober duty as leaders of the Church to guide people in a healing that will lead to their salvation. The Church proclaims forgiveness of sins, yet in certain circumstances, to help a person in their repentance, may retain one’s sins as a means to help them understand the severity of their sins and guide them in a path of sincere healing and return back to God.

6.    The Risen Christ took away Thomas’ ignorance and enlightened his minds with divine wisdom!

Thomas initially doubted the Resurrection yet he was the first to proclaim Jesus as “My Lord and my God.” Thomas teaches us that if we remain humble and open, our doubts can lead to deeper and new understandings of faith. The Risen Lord is not simply a great Teacher, one’s Master and Messiah – He is nothing less than our Lord and our God to whom we dedicate our lives to follow!

7.    Finally, the Risen Christ took away Thomas’ superficial understanding of life and gave him a proper perspective on what an authentic life is all about!

 St John the Evangelist ends His Gospel account by saying, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, you may have life in His name.”

God calls each one of us to live our lives not with a temporal, earthly perspective – not listening to the deceptive voices of society which tempt us to believe that life is about what we possess, what fun we have, what earthly status and fame we attain. No, an authentic life in Christ is believing that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing in our Lord Risen from the dead, we may discover and experience life eternal in His Name – living in His eternal peace, radiant joy, boundless hope, and unconditional divine love!

"Thomas, have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe." And our Risen Lord does bless us sevenfold:

1.    By taking away fear and giving us peace.

2.    By taking away doubt and giving us faith

3.    By taking confusion and giving us purpose

4.    By taking away loneliness and giving us the comfort of the Holy Spirit

5.    By taking away our sins and giving us the responsibility to help others overcome their sins

6.    By taking away ignorance and enlightening our minds with divine wisdom

7.    By taking away our earthly existence and giving us eternal life

Christ is Risen!

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