Duccio di Buoninsegna – The Maesta Altarpiece, The Incredulity of Saint Thomas
Very Rev. Feargal Mc Grady
Very Rev. Feargal Mc Grady

I write these notes for Easter in mid-Lent and I have no idea how the painful and dispiriting events in Eastern Europe will work out. I am no prophet and I do not have a crystal ball.
Our Order was founded originally in 1099, as an honour guard of Our Lord’s newly recovered Tomb in Jerusalem. Our attention to the Church in the Land that is Holy can easily be distracted or divided in all that has happened.
Never mind that we have come through two years of Pandemic that has to have affected us at a deeper level than we know! This might be true also of our fellow believers, here at home and in the Mother Church of Jerusalem. Have we all not experienced loss and fear ?
So what might the historical fact of the bodily resurrection of Jesus and of the empty tomb be saying to us in our lives, in these uncertain times our world is living ?
‘’Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and He said to them again, ‘Peace be with you’.’’
Already before his death, Jesus had promised His disciples the gift of a Spirit that would be with and among them in their darkest moments of loss and fear.
‘’After saying this He breathed on them and said: ’As the Father has sent Me, so I am sending you. Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven’.’’
So we too are sent : sent into our families, faith communities; sent also to support the Mother Church of Jerusalem and to be believers in Christ in the Holy Land.
We have experienced loss and fear; we have touched the wounds in His hands and in His side. So we are sent!
Like Thomas, we doubt! ‘’Unless I can see the holes that the nails have made in His side ….’’
In this broken and agitated world, our doubts mirror Thomas’s doubts. Is it not precisely when we experience moments of darkness and doubt that our Risen Lord Jesus encourages us to put our hands into His wounds? And when we do so in trust, that He then sends us out, that in the midst of our personal loss and fear we can carry His Risen Life, His Mercy and compassion to our loved ones, parishes, and even to the Holy Faithful People of God in the Holy Land? When we feel alone or even abandoned, does He not say to us across the Centuries ?
‘’Do not be afraid; it is I, the First and the Last. I was dead and now I live forever’’.
‘’Peace be with you’’.

Very Rev. Feargal Mc Grady, Knight Commander, Lieutenancy Archivist