April 28, 2019 [ 2nd Sunday Easter]
● Acts 5:12-16 ● Psalm 118 ● Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19 ● + John 20:19-31●
[_01_] Welcome to Our Lady of Lourdes, friends and families of our 1st Holy Communion young people and you – our young people –for 1st Communion.
The Gospel today reminds us of the close friendship and connection between Jesus and one particular apostle: Thomas. Jesus takes the time to make a special – 2nd – visit to the apostles just so Thomas & Jesus can see each other in person.
Yet, Jesus is close to all of his disciples and to all of us, and to all of you. He comes to us – in person – in Holy Communion.
Thomas is also important because – in the historical language/writing of the Bible – his name or nickname means “twin”, i.e., “twin brother”. Thomas is, as some writers say, our twin brother, because his appearance, his reaction is what many of us might do in the same situation. Thomas is your twin, my twin. You didn't know you had a twin brother!
Jesus is also your brother – to you - each of you in our first Communion Class....
Your personal friendship to Jesus is so important that his life is a gift for you on the Cross and in Communion.
I’d like to use Thomas being a twin as an… example/analogy.
Among us today are brothers who are very close in age and even 2 brothers who are twins. And yet all of us are called to this same closeness with Jesus. We are all brothers and sisters today…and in Thomas we have a twin !
[_02_] The other day, I met, for the first time – 2 brothers who are Boy Scouts and volunteers and they are were building a fence and garden on our property. Some of you may recall meeting them – Jason and Michael - because they spoke after Sunday Mass a few weeks ago about their construction projects. They are hoping to become Eagle Scouts and they have to build something as part of their goal to become Eagle Scouts. Their names are Jason and Michael. They are also twin brothers. They are twins.
In my conversation with them, I kept mixing them up and calling ‘Jason’ to Michael and ‘Michael’ to Jason. They were not even identical twins and I did this!
They were nice about this and did not seem to mind.
[_03_] If you meet someone who has a twin brother a twin sister, you might also do the same, to confuse them one with the other …because they are so close and similar in appearance.
[_04_] We want you – through your Holy Communion – to be close to Jesus, so that you will always know that God loves you and guides you.
I bring up the example of “twins” and “twin brothers” because Thomas the Apostle is mentioned in the Gospel this Sunday and Thomas’ name means ’twin’.
And, one of the things – that Pope Benedict XVI wrote about Thomas was that he tried very hard – throughout his life – to stay close to Jesus.
And, who is closer than your twin ? Sometimes, we are even trying to get away from our brothers or sisters or be independent of them…. But twin brothers or twin sisters are different.
They enjoy being together. The like being together. They even take some pleasure, I daresay, in one being confused with the other.
[*** Pause ***]
Pope Benedict wrote that Thomas really sees his destiny and his success as tied to that of Jesus.
And, isn’t this what twin brothers or twin sisters see in each other?
Even though they fight or argue or disagree…whether they wear the same clothes or different clothes, they share so many things …and especially the same birthday.
The life of one is the life of the other. The joy of one is the joy of the other. The pain of one is the pain of the other.
Now, we learn this when we grow up…and certainly marriage and matrimony are examples of this. When a woman becomes a mother, she comes to understand that her child’s joy is her joy, her child’s pain is her pain. The same for a father. But, these are things we learn in adulthood.
Twins, I suggest, learn from a very early age..and give us a powerful example of what it means to know another person intimately.
[_05_] When I was a kid playing baseball, , we used to play against a team on which the star players were twin brothers. Usually, one twin brother was the pitcher, and and the other twin brother was the 1st baseman.
Now, in baseball – and other sports – what players try to do is to give signals or signs to each other about what is coming next. And, they don’t want the other team “translating” or interpreting what the signal is. So, players will use some code or sign.
And, these twin brothers did that. One was the pitcher, one was the first baseman. And, our coach warned us – he said, you better watch out, because these twin brothers have a way of communicating with words or sounds ..and no one else can understand. So, you better be careful if you are taking a lead off of 1st base or trying to steal second.
The twins knew what other people didn’t know and they could talk to each other in a special way.
[_06_] It’s good to have a twin because that person understands you in a way that no one else does.
The twin has been with you your whole life, knows your pain, your joy, your sorrow, knows who you are.
[_07_] On this, your 1st Holy Communion Day, dear young people, I want you to remember that Jesus is also your brother, your friend, your companion and that he shares your joy, your sorrows.
And, that Jesus has been with you from the beginning of your life and he will be with you until the end of your life and he even meets us when we die.
So, it’s good to have a twin brother or twin sister, but it’s even more important to have Jesus as our brother, as our Savior, teacher..
[_08_] And, in our prayer, quiet time, Jesus can speak to us and relate to us in a way no one else can.
Who are those who help us in our difficulties, in our struggles? Those who know us the best. It does not mean that they tell us what we want to hear, but what we need to hear.
One of the great things about having a twin or having a best friend or having a spouse or a child is that we trust that we are KNOWN and LOVED simply for who we are. “To know you is to love you.” That is the old saying.
A true friend or companion is someone who loves us and knows us not for what we do or produce but that we are.
You – boys and girls – were loved and known by your parents even before you were born.
God loves you because you are. And, if you need forgiveness, God welcomes you not because you have the perfect apology or statement of contrition but simply because you are and because you say that you are sorry.
God loves us as we are.
[_09_] Jesus comes to help us when we are confused and to love us even if someone else does not love us or rejects us, simply because we are.
Jesus comes to us in Communion simply because we are.
And, while we are not all the same – we are not all identical twins or mirror-images of each other – we are equal and need in of God’s love and forgiveness. And, we are never alone in our communion with Jesus our Savior.[_fin_]