(Second Sunday of Easter: Acts 4:32-35; 1 John 5:1-6; John 20:19-31)
The end of Chapter 4 of the Acts of the Apostles paints a picture of the first Christians as a perfect society. Chapter 5, however begins with the story of a couple who tried to perpetrate a fraud on the community, and Chapter 6 describes quarrels over the distribution of the donations brought to the apostles.
And in the Gospel, we find Thomas refusing to trust the other apostles.
This is not so surprising. Even today there are strong differences of opinions, and sometimes conflicts, among Christians. These have led to tragic divisions.
We are divided among ourselves because we are divided within ourselves. In other words, all of us are—and each of us is—always in need of conversion and reconciliation. None of us will ever be able to say, Now I’m perfect. But help is always available.
The Christian community in Acts received the grace it needed to overcome situations dangerous to their unity. Thomas received from Jesus himself the help he needed in his moment of crisis.
The first major divisions in the Church had begun in the fourth century, over matters of doctrine. Was Jesus really God? What does the Church believe about the Holy Spirit? The Nicene Creed goes back to those times.
Fast-forward to 1846. The grace of La Salette was given to the Church in response to a new danger, worse even than doctrinal differences. People had stopped caring about such things. They had become indifferent to doctrine, to the commandments, and to the practice of their faith. Either they had rejected these things outright, or they had simply drifted away from them.
Mary was rightly concerned about the impact of all this on her people. They could not afford to sever their relationship with her Son, their Savior.
At Mass, before the sign of peace, we pray, “Look not on our sins but on the faith of your Church.” Our sins and the faith of your Church refer to the same group of people. We are sinners, we are Church. These are not mutually exclusive.
Imperfect and weak our faith may be, but it is real and can grow if we will let it. That is the Beautiful Lady’s hope—and ours—as she calls us to reconciliation.