Father David's Reflection for Feast of Saint Thomas, the Apostle
What Thomas said in John 20:24-29 is probably the most oft-quoted line spoken by any disciple in the
Gospels. Millions of Catholics say, every time the host is lifted up at the Consecration of the Mass, “My Lord and my God!” This is adoration, and adoration is good.
But sometimes the good is the enemy of the better. In one sense there is nothing higher than adoration, since this is what we will be doing for all eternity, saying with the full knowledge and love of Jesus himself, “Father, hallowed be thy name!” To make the Father known was the first priority of Jesus’ life, and this was Paul’s prayer for all who believe:
that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:18-19. See also Matthew 6:9;11:27; Luke 11:2; John 17:3).
But Ephesians 2:19-22 changes the focus from the end to the means, from the goal to what has to be set in place in order for it to be realized.
The passage is preceded by a proclamation of what Jesus did to reconcile us to the Father and unite us to him in perfect love.
He came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us [Jews and Gentiles] have access in one Spirit to the Father (Ephesians 2:17-18).
Then Paul focuses on how, in fact, we will enter into the knowledge of God. It is through union with Jesus Christ. As members of his body. In communion with all the “saints,” as “members of the household of God.” As members of the Church “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.”
In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.
So in this life our focus must be, not just on adoration, but on “building up the church” (1Corinthians 14:12-26). The Spirit in whom “we have access to the Father” is given to us to “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13).
Better than “My Lord and my God,” when the host is lifted up at Mass the words we should echo are those of Jesus himself: “This is my body, given up for you.” Each of us says with and in Jesus, addressing every member of the human race, “This is my body, given up for you.
The response the Church calls us make to this reading is the Responsorial, “Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.” The summons of the Mass is, yes indeed, to adoration. But it is to adoration followed by action. The liturgy says to us what the angel said to the disciples gazing at Jesus ascending into heaven: “Why do you stand looking up toward heaven?” (Acts 1:11). Jesus will come again. Go prepare the world to receive him!
Initiative: At Mass, say in union with Jesus, “This is my body, given up for you.”