CHESAPEAKE (Catholic Online):
The Feast of St Thomas the Apostle which we celebrate today on
the Roman Liturgical calendar gives me great hope for my own
life. I can identify with Thomas. Living by faith is not easy.
Yet, it is the very foundation for living as a disciple. As we
enter into the "Year of Faith" Thomas stands as a model, a
messenger and a lightpost for all of us.
The Gospel for the Liturgy (John 20: 24- 29)
recounts one of the Post-Resurrection appearances of Jesus
Christ to his disciples. The glorified Jesus appears to his
disciples, coming through locked doors and says "Peace be with
you." He breathes upon them the Holy Spirit, creating them anew.
He also communicates His authority to forgive sins to the
Apostles who will continue His redemptive mission through the
Church, which is His Body.
However, Thomas was not present for this
encounter. The Beloved disciple John records this exchange
between the Risen Lord and Thomas which follows: "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 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 bore His Wounds,now glorified, in His
Risen Body. Thomas touched those wounds - and so can we.
This encounter led to Thomas
being called "Doubting Thomas" by some. Yet the tradition tells
us that this so called "doubting Thomas" died a martyr for his
faith. He became a messenger of the Gospel to India, a
missionary who shed his own blood for the Master whom he
encountered on that day. His insistence on touching the Holy
Wounds presented the Disciple John another opportunity to
explain for all of us the implications of the Bodily
Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Thomasīs response in his
beautiful encounter with the Risen Lord, "My Lord and My God"
reveals the heart of prayer. It also speaks to the essence of
faith. His proclamation is a call to adoration and a living
communion with God. His response has become the exclamation for
millions, myself included, when faced with the Mystery of
Mysteries, the Holy Eucharist at the elevation during every
I suggest that
Thomas was not a doubter, rather he was a believer. And he is a
model for all of us at every Eucharist which is always the Feast
of Mercy. Pope St Gregory the Great who occupied the Chair of
Peter between 590 and 604 preached a marvelous homily on this
encounter between Thomas and the Risen Lord. In it he asked:
"What conclusion, dear brethren, do you come to?
Surely it was not by chance that this chosen disciple, was
missing in the first place? Or that on his return he heard, that
hearing he doubted, that doubting he touched, and that touching
he believed? It was by divine dispensation and not by chance
that things so fell out. Godīs Mercy worked wonderfully, for
when that doubting disciple touched his Masterīs wounded flesh
he cured the wound of our disbelief. So this doubting disciple,
who actually touched, became a witness to the reality of the
invited to become living witnesses in our own day to the reality
of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thomas touched the wounded
side of beloved Savior to heal the wounds of our own disbelief.
We were invited to approach the throne of Mercy and cry out with
St. Thomas: "My Lord and My God" (Jn 20:28). Those who do so are
forever changed. Peter became a messenger of mercy through his
encounter with the Risen Lord. He was so filled with the Spirit
of the Risen Lord that the Lord could continue His redemptive
mission through him, accomplishing miraculous deeds.
In the Acts of the Apostles, the story of the
early Church on mission, we read that even the shadow of Peter
would effect merciful healing .(Acts 5 12-16) Those who
encounter the Risen Jesus are changed, transformed by Mercy made
manifest. They then become bearers of mercy for others.
The beloved Disciple John was imprisoned on the
Island of Patmos. We can read of his encounter with the Lord in
the Spirit in the last book of the Bible. (Rev. 1) He received a
merciful vision from the Risen Lord which became the Book of
Revelation.In this encounter with the Risen Lord He heard these
words: "Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one
who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever.
I hold the keys to death and the netherworld."
And then there was Thomas. Jesus turned Thomasīs
doubt into an event of Encounter for generations to come. Out of
a true repentance born from seeing Mercy Incarnate, touching the
wounds of His Divine love, came those wonderful words that have
formed the most profound of personal prayers for millennia. "My
Lord and My God" Pope St Gregory was right, "Thomasī doubt
healed the wounds of all of our doubts".
Thank God for 'Doubting Thomas'. His doubts healed the wounds of
our own disbelief. They also open up for all who look with the
eyes of faith a deeper understanding of the redemptive effect of
the wounds of Jesus - and the role our own wounds can have in
our continuing call to conversion as we join them to His. Thomas
the doubter became the Thomas the model believer, an example for
each one of us. He is a great beacon of light for all of us as
we cry out with him, My Lord and My God! Faith.