A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” (John 20:26-29 NRSV).
Thomas the Apostle is traditionally known as the doubter. Because Thomas would not take the word of the other Apostles that the Risen Jesus appeared to them, he is believed to be without faith. Others might interpret Jesus’ words to Thomas appear to suggest that Jesus gave Thomas what he wanted, but that those who believe in Jesus’ Resurrection without the experience that Thomas had, are somehow more faithful that he was.
We do have the most well used Scripture verse to back up what Jesus said about faith and what is seen and not seen. Hebrews 11:1 in the Common English Bible reads, “Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see.” So the matter of faith being related to what we do or do not see is a valid point.
God also knows that we struggle with faith because we are human. It is difficult to believe in God when we read Gospel texts about Jesus healing the sick; while we sit at the side of a dying loved one who is not getting any better. Being asked to have faith in the Resurrection of Jesus in a culture where violence and death rake up billions of dollars in the movies and television shows is difficult to say the least. Faith is a real challenge when we pray and feel like our prayers are not heard.
As we contemplate the Gospel for this Sunday, it appears that God is fully aware of how difficult faith is for us. God sees our fears, doubts and questions as God’s opportunities to draw us closer to God and find our faith strengthened as we yield to the Holy Spirit’s prompting. Jesus offers us the opportunity to touch His wounds and receive His compassion so that our doubt becomes the pathway to a simpler faith. The simpler faith sees prayer and many of life’s challenges as opportunities for grow closer in relationship with God that is made of trust and love. Our evidence is the love God has for us in Jesus. It is His love for us that meets us where we are, and walks with us to search for a deeper union with God. The experience of St. Thomas becomes our experience of the Resurrection.
Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB