In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth and all that came to be on the earth. Creation was the first Grace. The first gift. The Jewish people who gradually came to worship one God came to understand their life as a gift from God. They took the human family a long way in understanding God's love for humanity.
The story of god was definitively told when Jesus was born. Jesus was God's perfect image. "I and the Father are one". He was the ultimate Sacrament of the encounter with God. The story of Jesus' life did not meet anyone's definition of what God should have been like. It was one of the great reversals in human history. Jesus' crucifixion and death defined that reversal. "If you are the Son of God come down from that cross". Coming to that understanding of Jesus as suffering servant is a journey of the heart that all of us would have to make. His embrace of the cross would be the pattern for all. "Follow me" he said. And so we must. In embracing the cross or crosses in our life we allow the suffering to create our own living-dying and rising with Jesus. To embrace humbly the suffering involved in human life introduces us to the power of the cross in our own lives. What happens next is the action of grace. In dying we rise now to the New Life. It will continue after our physical death. It needs to start now, thus the urgency in the Gospels.
Easter is an experience of Grace. Without that experience it is only a word.
Deitrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran theologian executed by the Nazis shortly before the end of the Second World War, wrote that only a suffering God could help. Thomas' probing of the nail wound and spear wound are indications that he was that Suffering Servant. Our failures in such large and small things in life are given time in history is the universal sign of that same individual struggle between good and evil. Embracing this condition begins the Resurrection.
Jesus was the sign of God's presence in the world going into the darkness of human life. Now risen, Jesus inhabits us with his presence and suffers with us as his brothers and sisters. His love really and truly binds us to Him. It is as close and real as when you are suffering with a loved one. He reached for compassion when he was suffering, now he reaches to offer us a way to life. It is His risen life that prompts us to courage, fearlessness, and love in our lives.