(Jn 20, 24-29)
Thomas, called Didymus, 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 nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
It is a pity and quite unfair that the nickname “Doubting Thomas” will forever be stuck with the apostle whose feast we celebrate today. Such a moniker has glossed over his heroism in bringing Christianity to many places as far as Kerala in southern India (according to an old tradition).
In another sense, however, there is also o good side to that. Thomas makes the apostles seem more real, more human like the rest of us. His experience tells us that it is normal to have doubts, once in a while. Thomas was just being honest when he expressed his hesitations and fears. Going back to his experience will certainly help us in moments of uncertainly, in moments when we lose our self confidence, in moments of suffering, disappointment, failure or even the loss of a loved one. At such moments Thomas is a comfort to us because his experience is an acknowledgment that believing is no easy task. It is a risky venture which demands a lot of courage and trust because we hardly have any evidence that what we believe in is true. We can see ourselves in Thomas the skeptic and cynic.
His personal encounter with the Risen Lord, however, transformed him. His doubts, fears and uncertainties disappeared. We may not encounter the Risen Lord in exactly the same manner that Thomas and the other apostles did but we do encounter Him in various ways especially through the sacraments. Unlocking our hearts to him would allow us to receive the gift of faith that would drive away our fears, doubts and uncertainties.
Daily Gospel 2017