Today, July 3, is the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle.
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 he 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.” 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 this scene from The Gospel According to John that has forever marked St. Thomas the Apostle “Doubting Thomas.” That’s interesting in and of itself, but especially given that The Gospel According to Matthew records in its final scene, where Jesus gives the Apostles the Great Commission, that “When they saw him, they worshipped, but they doubted” (Mt 28:17).
As for me, I can understand Thomas’ doubts. He has just heard from the other ten remaining Apostles that the Lord has been seen, after He clearly was crucified, died, and was buried. How could it be that the Lord had visited them? When Jesus appeared to Thomas a week later, Thomas’ doubts were removed, and he let forth the most clear proclamation of Jesus’ divinity in all of the four Gospels: “My Lord and my God!”
So, I understand Thomas’ doubts. But, after all they had witnessed during Jesus’ earthly ministry, and after witnessing the Resurrection, how could it be that the Apostles still doubted?
I think this speaks to the brokenness of human nature. When God moves in our lives, it is sometimes just too difficult to accept it. Consider the healing of the ten lepers. Only one came back to give thanks to Jesus. In fact, the Gospel says “seeing that he was healed” he came back to give thanks. Did the others not even see that they were healed? How often does God’s grace move in our lives, works to transform our lives, and we don’t even notice? Or, we attribute it to some other factors. This isn’t to say that every breath we take is a miracle. It is to say that God’s grace moves in our lives in countless ways, and it would befit us to acknowledge this and to notice it. Our broken human natures, however, alienated from God by sin, too often fail to see when we are touched or transformed by God’s grace. Is this not doubt?
We can learn a lesson from Thomas and from all the Apostles who doubted even as Jesus stood before them resurrected from the dead. When God’s grace stares us in the face, there’s no reason to doubt it. There’s no reason to look for other explanations. Again, this isn’t to say that we should attribute every ordinary experience to God acting directly in our lives. It is to say that we could be more attentive to when He does. And, more grateful!
Be Christ for all. Be Christ to all. See Christ in all.