Tag Archives: Thomas the Apostle

An Apostle for Skeptics

Duccio, The Incredulity of St. Thomas (The Maesta altarpiece, 1308-1311)

Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle

John gave us the fullest portrait of Thomas in the Gospels, however brief and sketchy, in three instances. 

First, when he accompanied Jesus and the disciples from the river Jordan to Bethany in response to the urgent message of Martha and Mary that their brother Lazarus was ill. Jesus had just barely escaped being stoned to death in Judea, and now proposed returning to the area again, a risky move in the view of the disciples. If Lazarus is “asleep,” he will recover, they reasoned. Then Jesus told them clearly, “Lazarus has died,” prompting Thomas’ gloomy response: “Let us also go to die with him” (John 11:16).

Second, at the table of the Last Supper, Thomas gave voice to the uncomprehending hearts of all the disciples as they listened to Jesus’ discourse about the “many dwelling places” in his “Father’s house.” 

“Where I am going you know the way,” Jesus concluded. Thomas was not afraid to admit his ignorance: “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” His question was rewarded with the immortal words: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

Third, Thomas showed up a week after the Resurrection full of skepticism, having heard from the other ten disciples that Jesus was alive and came to them through locked doors on the evening of the third day after his crucifixion. The whole group claimed to have seen the Lord’s hands and pierced side—a mass delusion in all probability. After all, grief can lead to wishful thinking. 

But Thomas 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.”

As if playing with Thomas, Jesus repeated his miraculous entry through closed doors with the same words of greeting as on the previous Sunday.

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!”

Thomas spoke for all who wrestle with doubt and need sensible proof so as not to sink into unbelief. Eucharistic miracles, visions of Christ, Marian apparitions, and the numerous prodigies that have been approved by the Church in the last two millennia answered the Thomas in all of us. Yet after Pentecost, we have a more powerful witness than all sensible proof—the Spirit of truth, our Advocate, without whom no one can say, “Jesus is Lord!” (1 Corinthians 12:3)

Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Jesus assured all those whom Thomas would later preach to, that their faith was no less authentic without the aid of sight. Faith may be “blind” to the physical eye, but full of light to the spiritual eye (Ephesians 1:18; Matthew 6:22).

Follow Thomas in this video for the fifth Sunday of Lent on the raising of Lazarus. His witness gives us the freedom to doubt, question, and make an honest appraisal of Jesus Christ.

-GMC

Going to God through Questions

Thomas

Today, July 3rd, we remember Thomas the apostle. We’re tempted to think that belief does away with troublesome questions and shelters us from a world of unbelief, that belief makes our way to God smooth and undisturbed. Not so, Thomas reminds us; he found faith through his questions and by placing his finger into the wounds of Christ.

Gregory the Great reminds us today of the importance of Thomas the Apostle.

“In a marvellous way God’s mercy arranged that the disbelieving disciple, in touching the wounds of his master’s body, should heal our wounds of disbelief. The disbelief of Thomas has done more for our faith than the faith of the other disciples. As he touches Christ and is won over to belief, every doubt is cast aside and our faith is strengthened. So the disciple who doubted, then felt Christ’s wounds, becomes a witness to the reality of the resurrection.”

That’s an interesting statement, isn’t it? “The disbelief of Thomas has done more for our faith than the faith of the other disciples.”

We go to God through questions, and some troubles too. We’re healed by touching the wounds of Christ.

Grant, Almighty God,
that we may glory in the Feast of the blessed apostle Thomas, so that we may always be sustained by his intercession
and, believing, may have life
in the name of Jesus Christ your son,
whom Thomas acknowledged as the Lord.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Life Comes from His Wounds

ICON

The Passionists celebrate the Feast of the Glorious Wounds of Jesus on Friday of the second week of Easter. The four gospels tell the great story of the passion of Jesus, each in its own way. More than the others, John’s gospel points to his wounds, unlikely signs revealing the mystery of the Word made flesh.

On Calvary  a small symbolic group stands beneath the cross of “the King of the Jews”– Mary, the mother of Jesus, the disciple whom he loved, and a few others. A gentile soldier joins them.

This group represents the “new Jerusalem,” “the inhabitants of Jerusalem who look on the one whom they have pierced…and mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child.” (Zechariah 11, 10 )

They receive a precious gift. “It is finished!” Jesus declares, and bowing his head, he pours out his spirit on them. A Roman soldier thrusts a spear into Jesus’ side. “Immediately blood and water flowed out.” (John 19, 34)

Blood, a sign of his life, flows on those standing beneath his cross. Water, signifying the Spirit within him, is poured out on the world they represent. Far from ending his life, his death is the moment Jesus shares his life.“This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ.” (I John 5,6)

Artists afterwards picture the wounds of Christ as cosmic signs. They place the grave of Adam beneath the cross — generations wait for the new life Jesus brings. Creation, symbolized by the sun and moon, looks on expectantly, for Calvary is where creation too is redeemed. Angels collect the blood and water from Jesus’ wounds in cups representing the mystery of the Eucharist. All days are found in this one day. On Calvary, the glory of the Lord is revealed in his wounds.

St. Paul of the Cross in his letters often wished the one to whom he’s writing to be placed in the “wounds of Christ” or the “holy Side of Jesus” or his “Sacred Heart.”  “I am in a hurry and leave you in the holy Side of Jesus, where I ask rich blessings for you.”

These expressions may seem pious phrases until we read the story of Thomas from John’s gospel. Jesus shows the doubting disciple the wounds in his hands and side, and Thomas believes.

Belief is not something we come to by ourselves. God gives this gift through Jesus Christ. We all stand beneath the life-giving Cross of Jesus. May his life give new hope to us and our world.

Belief Comes From His Wounds

Reading the letters of St. Paul of the Cross you notice how often he wishes the one to whom he’s writing to be placed in the “wounds of Christ” or the “holy Side of Jesus” or his “Sacred Heart.”.  “I am in a hurry and leave you in the holy Side of Jesus, where I ask rich blessings for you.”

Expressions like these seem to be pious phrases until we read the story of Thomas from John’s gospel. Jesus shows the doubting disciple the wounds in his hands and side, and Thomas believes.

Belief is not something we arrive at by our own powers of reason or will. Faith is a gift that God gives through Jesus Christ.