Rv 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19
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“I hold the keys of death.” Only the Lord Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, can say that, as we hear him say in today’s second reading. It is a fundamental temptation of the human family to think that some day, by our ingenuity, technology, knowledge or power, we can hold the keys of death. That’s what drives the culture of death. We want to be in perfect control. Advocates of assisted suicide call for the right of people to control the timing and manner of their own deaths. We want to “tame” death so we can use it as a tool to escape suffering. Hence we impose it on the unborn when they are deemed too inconvenient, or when they have disabilities or conditions like Down Syndrome. Nearly all unborn children who are diagnosed with Down Syndrome are killed by abortion.
But if we want victory over death, it is the Lord Jesus Christ to whom we turn. Rather than proclaiming an ethic of death, we proclaim a Kingdom of Life. John “heard…a voice as loud as a trumpet,” and he himself was on the island of Patmos precisely because he had trumpeted the message of Christ. The first reading shows us that the apostles’ preaching of the Resurrection was accompanied by tremendous signs. The Resurrection, in other words, gives rise to a community of those who both believe and proclaim it, and bring its power to the world. That is why we are pro-life.
Thomas doubted the victory of life over death. Where was he the first Easter night? Scripture does not tell us, except to say that he was not with the other apostles, to whom the Lord appeared. Maybe Thomas was out looking for the Lord! After all, if he was the kind of person who had to “see for himself,” and had heard the announcement from the women that morning that they had seen the Lord on the road, maybe he thought that he could go out on the same road and find him! But that was a mistake, because Thomas separated himself from the community of believers gathered around Peter. And he missed the Lord.
It was only when Thomas reunited himself with the community that he, too, saw the Lord. Today, we are that community of faith, bringing the world to understand that the destiny of the human person is life, not death, and that there is only one who holds the keys of death. He is the Lord of our lives, our freedom, and our choices. He is the Risen One!