Thursday, July 3, 2008

A Believing Thomas!

I have a great love for my family history, for my geneology. A distant cousin published a wonderful book, complete with pictures, of my ancestors on my mother’s side of the family and every so often I take it out and read it. My ancestors, my relatives, are very real to me. I “know” them in my heart. I can speak their names with great affection even though they lived many years ago.

I feel that way sometimes about the saints, especially the Apostles like Peter and James and John. I “know” them in my heart. Today we celebrate the feast of one of them – St. Thomas the Apostle, often called “doubting Thomas.” As you know, after the Resurrection, when Jesus appeared to the disciples, Thomas was not there. Later, when the disciples told him that Jesus was risen, Thomas would not believe. He wanted to see the nail marks in Jesus’ hands and feet, the wound in his side. Only then would he believe.

The Lord came a second time and Thomas was in the room. He urged Thomas to put his finger into the nail wounds, into the wound in his side. Thomas did and was overcome with joy and faith: “My Lord and my God”, he exclaimed, as if to say, “it really IS you, you are alive, you really are risen.”

Lack of faith and disbelief runs in the family! Thomas’ faith had been shattered by the Crucifixion and Jesus came to him and healed his pain and his inability to believe. How many times is our faith shattered by our own crosses? Jesus wants to come and heal our pain and our inability to trust him, even when we do not see him.

St. Gregory the Great writes: "Do you really believe that it was by chance that this chosen disciple was absent, then came and heard, heard and doubted, doubted and touched, touched and believed? It was not by chance but in God's providence. In a marvelous way God's mercy arranged that the disbelieving disciple, in touching the wounds of his master's body, should heal our wounds of disbelief.

God arranged the whole thing, for Thomas and for us. So when our faith is weak, our trust in the Lord is shaky, ask Jesus to come and to show us His love and the truth that He is risen, He is alive, and he holds us in the nail-marked palm of his hands. “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed,” Jesus told Thomas. That’s us! Thomas didn't have to psych himself up to believe. Jesus came and enabled him to believe. He will do the same for us if we ask him. St. Thomas, pray for us!

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