In the Company of Disciples

For 3 July 2023, The Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, based on Ephesians 2:19-22, John 20:24-25

Ephesians 2:19-22

Brothers and sisters: You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

John 20:24-25

Thomas, called Didymus [the Twin], one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But Thomas said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”


As I have prepared this preaching, I have looked out over the University of Notre Dame campus from the tenth floor of the Theodore Hesburgh Library, facing toward Notre Dame’s famous golden domed administration building and the University’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Online, you can find dozens of photos of the beautiful Basilica. Still, except for a few wedding shots, the photos do not highlight what is, for me, the Basilica’s most moving feature—its congregation.
Each late afternoon this week, we participants in a conference on preaching Catholic social teaching have joined the Notre Dame worshipping community for daily Mass. The church has been full, and the liturgy has been fulsome. This spirit-touched communion of disciples has included twenty-something new parents with their babies, undergraduate and graduate students at Mass with friends, older couples holding hands, staff at the end of their workday, clergy and diverse religious, and guests visiting campus. To pray like this in a fully present congregation is an experience of being in the body as a Christian—embodied in the real presence of Jesus in his people, in his body, the Body of Christ, the discipleship body of the Church. Here, as disciples, we are physically close to each other in a Pentecost experience of communal prayer. Are not our hearts burning within us? We are “no longer strangers and sojourners” but “fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God”—we have seen the Lord!
As I listen each morning to this podcast of daily Dominican preaching, I also frequently feel this same recognition of Jesus, who is bodily present in his assembly of disciples. Preaching and listening to one another, we are “in Christ” as we are moved to enflesh Jesus in our world. This past week listening to this podcast, for example, I have been inspired by Kathleen Gallaher’s preaching about the narrow gate of discipleship. In my physically demanding week at Notre Dame, the specific memory of this preaching more than once has helped me to make the narrow-gate choices of discipleship. And I am thankful to my brother Jerry Stookey for his preaching on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul—calling us to hold fast to God’s gift of Christian community wherever we find it.
With gratitude for my sisters and brothers in the Body of Christ, I have experienced Christian community at Notre Dame this past week, even as I experience the communion of disciples daily with this podcast. Please come with me through the narrow gate of discipleship—into a communion of disciples who touch the hands and the side of Jesus in one another and who proclaim with our lives the transformative news of God with us.

Scripture passage from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright 1989, 1993, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

About Gregory Heille, O.P.

Gregory Heille, O.P., serves as Professor of Preaching and Evangelization and director of the Doctor of Ministry in Preaching at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri. He is a friar of the Province of St. Albert the Great USA and has a particular interest in racial equity education.