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Apr 23, 2020

Are We the Doubting Thomas in Our Reaction to COVID-19?

Katie F. Ruszala

After Jesus was put to death, the disciples locked themselves away in the Upper Room, in fear of being arrested and killed. Just a few days before they were celebrating Passover with Jesus entering Jerusalem for a big celebration. Everything was going great until Jesus was arrested. They then became fearful, frightened and locked themselves in the Upper Room. 

The Gospel reading for Divine Mercy Sunday illustrated a beautiful account of Jesus appearing to the disciples after his resurrection. He addressed them by saying, “Peace be with you.” His words calmed the disciples and washed away all the fears and anxieties they had. 

Is this us? Are we locked in the Upper Room in fear of what is to come? I feel we are all a little frightened. A little over a month ago the United States Bishops stated we could no longer hold public Masses. This was devastating to thousands. How could they just cancel public Masses? How are we to receive Jesus? How will we survive

So Many Questions and Fears

Thanks to technology, we have been able to watch live-streamed Masses and offer spiritual Communion every Sunday and even weekdays (check for an up-to-date schedule of live-streamed Masses). We are forced to go back to the old tradition and pray at home with our families. Jesus says, “Peace be with you,” in the Upper Room, just as he has said it to us by giving us the ability to participate in Mass, while not being able to receive him physically. 

In John’s account of this Gospel story, he mentions that Thomas was not there when Jesus first appeared to them. When the disciples recalled their experience to Thomas, he said he will not believe until he has touched the nail marks on his hands or put his hand in Jesus’ side. 

Are we that doubting Thomas? Many stay-at-home mandates have been extended over a month, the economy is crashing, and our fears and anxieties are growing. Will the kids ever be able to go back to school this year? Will the seniors be able to graduate? Will the economy be able to recover? Will my job still be waiting for me when this is all over? Is the government taking our freedom? We have so many questions, fears, and anxieties. 

Time of Trial

Where is our faith? Do we have faith? Thomas refused to believe until he saw, and touched. Someone once told me Jesus has seen the end—he is the light at the end of the tunnel. All we have to do is follow the light.

I saw a meme the other day in which Satan was on one side and said to Jesus “I took you out of every Church.” Jesus replied, “But I put Church into every home!” Satan is trying to make us fear and tremble, but at the end of the day, Jesus has the answers. He is the light. 

Prior to COVID-19, I was a parish director of faith formation and also a director of youth ministry. I love my students, and my passion was bringing them to the Eucharist, and to follow the Light of Christ. When my state of New York mandated that only essential workers could work, I was laid off. This crushed me. How am I supposed to help lead my students’ families to follow the light during this time of trial and despair? 

Jesus Will Never Let Go

I am a newlywed wife and mother, and I’m thirty-eight weeks pregnant with our first child. Many times, I see myself as the doubting Thomas. Will my husband be allowed in the delivery room with me? How far is too far when it comes to quarantine? Is it safe for the grandparents to meet our baby when he is born? Will we be able to baptize him right away? Will we contract COVID-19 being in the hospital for delivery? Will I have a job after all of this? Will we be able to provide for our baby?

I admit to being like the doubting Thomas, but through the love I have for God and my husband, I believe Jesus is the Light at the end of the tunnel. When I married my husband in August 2019— when we joined together in the sacrament of matrimony—we became one with God the Father in heaven. By handing our fears over to Jesus, he is able to take our hands and lead us to the light. I know my family will make it through because we love each other and God.

When Jesus appeared to Thomas a week later, Thomas realized he should have been believing the entire time. We need to turn our trust to God in these times of trial and confusion.  

I may not have physical answers to my questions—that physical sign that Thomas needed—but I know my God is guiding us. We have to trust in him and believe in him in all we do. 

I pray that this Easter Season we can all snuggle close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He will never let us go or stop loving us. 

You May Also Like:

The Lord Heard Thomas When He Didn’t Believe

4 Reasons for Dryness in Prayer [Fr. Josh Johnson video]

Mary: Mother, Queen, Warrior

You Are Enough: What Women of the Bible Teach You About Your Mission and Worth [book]

Katie F. Ruszala is a wife and expectant mother from western New York. She is a youth ministry professional and has worked as a faith formation director and a religion teacher. She enjoys doing ministry with her husband Michael. Katie has a bachelor of arts degree in theology from Ave Maria University in Florida, where she wrote her thesis on transubstantiation. 

Featured image by Rob Hille sourced from Wikimedia Commons

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