Jesus Christ told his apostles to bring the Good News revealed by God in him to all people. They handed on through “their preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they established, what they themselves had received–whether from the lips of Christ, from his way of life and his works, or whether they had learned it at the promptings of the Holy Spirit.” (Catechism of the Catholic Faith 76)
The apostles and others associated with them, “under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit committed the message of salvation to writing.” (Catechism 76)
We acknowledge the apostles’ role in bringing the Good News when we read the gospels and recite the Apostles’ Creed. We remember them in our liturgy, and each month we celebrate one of the apostles in our calendar of feasts. July 3rd, we honor the Apostle Thomas.
Thomas reminds us that the witnesses chosen by Jesus were both weak and strong. Everyone in the Upper Room the night of Jesus’ resurrection believed that he had risen. The absent Thomas doesn’t. “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.”
Only when Jesus patiently appears to him a week later and has him touch the wounds in his hands and his side, does he believe. “My Lord and my God.”
Is Thomas unique in his weakness of faith? Were the others chosen by Jesus as foundations of his church unlike him? From the slight information the gospels provide, all the other apostles are both weak and strong–Peter, their leader, is a prime example.
Did the Holy Spirit change the apostles completely at Pentecost? We may think they were, but I don’t think they were so completely transformed as we like to believe. The story in St. Luke’s gospel of the two disciples on the way to Emmaus may better describe the post-resurrection church and its leaders.
Hardly a triumphalist church and hardly perfect leaders. Their strength and their guide was the patient Jesus. The Risen Jesus was with them then and he is with us now.