In today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles (which we will continue to listen to throughout the Easter season), we heard a description of the very earliest time in the Church, shortly after Pentecost. Two bits of information are highlighted in that description.

Firstly, and very prominently, we heard how the early Church lived a distinctly common life together. They were united ‘in heart and soul’, they held their material possessions in common, and they shared their goods with one another, so no one was left in need. This is quite a radical way of life, not something we would look to live today in the same way.

Yet we should not dismiss this social radicality, born of faith, as an impossibility. After all, it had come from belief in the passion, death and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. These earliest forebears of ours found in their belief in the risen Jesus a way of living together that looked to take care of each individually. It is the unity of heart and soul which seems to have enabled this common way of life. And in a hostile environment, where these first Christians gathered, holding up the goodness of each other in the name of Jesus provided them with encouragement, hope and purpose.

The second distinctive description of the early Church was about the role of the apostles. As we heard, ‘[t]he apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great power.’ One of those apostles was Thomas. What a change he had gone through! Doubter, unbeliever, sceptic in Christ’s resurrection, to powerful testifier, encourager and believer. To become a believer in the resurrection of Christ was life-changing.

Thomas is the apostle we need today because he shows us how to believe in a sceptical world. He was able to accept the truth of Jesus’ resurrection on seeing him. And in accepting that the resurrection happened, he accepted the divinity of Christ, his risen friend and Master. ‘My Lord and my God.’ So do not be afraid to place your own hands into Christ’s side, and to touch his resurrected wounds. For when we do so, we are binding ourselves to God’s life in us.

Those wounds are not by way of Christ’s physical body any longer—after all, his visible body is now in heaven. But his invisible Body is with us—in the Church, sacramentally, and in the poor, who are present among us. That the whole group of believers lived a common life that attended to those in need is because they believed in the testifying of the resurrection.

This is Mercy—the God of mercy—made real for us. As we prayed at the beginning of Mass:

God of everlasting mercy,
kindle the faith of the people you have made your own,
[and] increase the grace you have bestowed …

In other words, out of the infinite mercy of God, faith is afire in us and grace is flowing through us. To trust in this mercy—present from the beginning of creation—is to have faith in Christ’s victory over death, including our death. The resurrection is God’s most merciful act of creation: in his Son’s arising, God re-created the world, and us.

Jesus said of himself, I am the resurrection and the light. May that light of the resurrection—the light of mercy and forgiveness—be evident in us, who today unite as believers in him.