Today, July 3, is the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle.
“Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.’
“Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.'” (John 20:24-29)
Because of this account from the Gospel According to John, Thomas is forever berated as “Doubting Thomas.” In fairness, what the other Apostles were telling him was pretty hard to believe. Thomas knew that Jesus had been tortured and crucified. He knew He had been buried in a tomb shut tight with a stone. Perhaps the news was simply too good to be true. At that point, it seems that Thomas’ incredulity was on more solid ground than the faith of the other Apostles. No one had ever heard of someone rising from the dead. What did that even mean? Perhaps his brothers had been so overwhelmed in their grief that mass hysteria had overtaken them? Thomas wanted proof.
That desire for proof, for physical proof, is pretty basic to all of us. How many times have we heard “such and such” and responded by saying, “Well, until I can verify it, I have my doubts!” How often do we turn to snopes.com when we see something questionable on the internet? I had to do so twice just last week, and in both cases the claim proved false.
The problem is: we so often need to verify. There is so much thrown around out there that is false that we don’t even know where to turn for an objective, fact-based account of events. Denzel Washington famously quipped, “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you do read it, you’re misinformed.” That’s all Thomas wanted. He wanted to know that his brothers hadn’t gone off the deep end. He wanted to know that their grief had not driven them to the false hope of fake news.
In that sense, we can be grateful to Thomas. Jesus responded to his doubts by showing up with His wounds. Thomas saw and believed, and responded with the clearest enunciation of the divinity of Christ in the Scriptures: “My Lord and my God!” By sharing this account in his Gospel, the Evangelist John is making it clear for all those who come to faith in Jesus that their faith rests firmly on the bodily Resurrection of Jesus. See the nail marks in His hands. See the wound in His side. Jesus is no longer in the tomb. The Resurrection is real. John knew there were those who doubted the Resurrection, and in our own day there have certainly been those who attempt to demythologize the Resurrection into a symbolic, emotional, psychological raising up of Jesus in the hearts and minds of His followers. John will have none of that. The Resurrection is real. “He is not here. He is risen!”
Jesus does the same for us today. When we have doubts, lack of faith in God’s love and in all He has done for us, Jesus shows up with His wounds. We respond: “My Lord and my God!”
St. Thomas the Apostle, pray for us!
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.