Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Our Lord, and the one famous for doubting Jesus’s resurrection until he saw for himself the risen body of the Lord. Those of us who live in religious life cannot help but notice the interrelationships that existed among the apostles. There were twelve men, two pairs of whom were brothers, and the others were probably unknown to one another until Jesus issued his invitation to each: Come; follow me. They lived in the greatest proximity and intimacy for about three years and, I’m sure, came to know one another extremely well.
So, when Our Lord first appeared to the ten on that first Easter night, they were thrilled to see him alive and gloriously happy after the horror of Good Friday. But Thomas was not with them. So they all told him that they had seen the risen Christ. And what was his reaction: “I don’t believe it. And furthermore, I WON’T believe it until I can put my finger into the wounds left in his wrists by the nails, and my hand into the wound in his side caused by the soldier’s lance after Jesus had died.”
Now, from the point of view of community life, I can wonder how in the world Saint Thomas could be so stubborn, so incredulous that he would doubt the word of ALL TEN of the other apostles (Judas having already committed suicide.) And I suspect that they wondered the same thing. Did he think they were hallucinating? lying? mentally ill because of Jesus’s apparent defeat on the cross? Whatever his explanation, he didn’t believe these very close companions of his.
The following Sunday evening, Jesus appeared again. He didn’t have to be told of Thomas’s refusal to believe. So he said to Thomas, come here; put your finger into my wrists; your hand into my side. Did Saint Thomas actually do that? I would hope not, but maybe he did—so deep was his unbelief and therefore need for proof. But once he was convinced that Jesus was truly risen from the dead, Saint Thomas gave to the world one of our most beautiful prayers: “My Lord and my God!” He professes his belief not only in the fact that Jesus has risen from the tomb, but also that Jesus is GOD! So the stubborn, distrusting Thomas is converted into the deeply believing, knowing, and adoring Thomas. Years ago, when I was a child in grade school, the Sisters taught us to say “My Lord and my God” when the priest elevated the newly consecrated Host at Mass. I still say that daily, when I am the priest and have the immense privilege of consecrating and bringing Christ to be present on the altar for myself and those present as well as the universal Church. The unbelief of the doubting Thomas became the adoration of the believing Thomas, and gave to the entire adoring Christian world a simple but profound exclamation of faith and worship: My Lord and my God! Thank you for seeking God’s truth, God Bless you. Father Victor Brown.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.