Daily Office Readings for Tuesday of the 4th Week of Advent: Year 2
Morning, Psalm 66 and 67; Evening, Psalm 116 and 117;
1st Samuel 2:1b to 10; Titus 2:1 to 10; Luke 1:26 to 38:
“Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:38)
The angel Gabriel approaches Mary and shares with God’s plan for humanity. Mary is of the lower middle class of her day and place. There are people around her who look down on her. The whole land of her home is occupied and dominated by a foreign army, Rome. What God is proposing is for her to be a co-creator with God to create a space in human history for God to be made manifest with us, Emmanuel. This service is for the benefit of those who love her and those who don’t.
Here is yet another example of the true believer emptying themselves in order to be useful for God. Mary, the Mother of God Incarnate literally gives her body in the service of the will of God. “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
Today we reflect on Thomas the apostle. But before we get into Thomas as the so-called “Doubting Thomas,” let’s ask why Thomas was not with the other disciples. The now eleven apostles (Judas has killed himself) are continually locked in a room. Only Mary Magdalene and some other women are running back and forth getting provisions and giving updates on Jesus sightings to the apostles, save Thomas. Why?
This makes me ponder. Perhaps the decisions of the group are going in a direction that Thomas didn’t agree with. These men are human just like me. The feelings I have today are some of the same feelings they, and in particular Thomas, might have had then. When Thomas says, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe,” (John 20:25), maybe this statement was about his disbelief of the ten, not something he thought Jesus couldn’t do.
Thomas has courage in the Gospel of John. When Jesus is warned about going back to Jerusalem that he might be killed there, “Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him,” (John 11: 16). This surely shows both his character and his courage. Also, Thomas speaks up when he doesn’t understand something that Jesus said. When Jesus announces his death and tells them that they know the way he is going, the confused Thomas speaks up, “Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). To doubt, if in fact we do, is to reflect on the uncertainty of our faith. There have been a number of times I have had some doubt but followed my faith anyway. So too I believe Thomas was a faithful apostle even before he was invited to touch the wounds of Jesus.
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John