Reflection on Thomas and Jesus

St. Thomas

 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told 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 in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

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 20:24-29).

How might we experience contemplative prayer and mysticism as we think about this exchange between Thomas and Jesus?  There is such a variety of messages in this Gospel Reading.  They will speak to each person differently, depending on where you are and what you may be doing.

I would like to look at a few points and see how the Holy Spirit touches each of us.

Thankfully, we have moved away from naming Thomas as the doubting prude who just could not get it right.  Alternatively, we now admire Thomas for the faith that he had to question the news he heard and wanted their experience to be his experience of the Resurrection for himself.  In Thomas we see not only his opportunity for growth by knowing where his faith might be lacking; we see a version of our own.  His insistence on seeing Jesus is his soul crying out to God to bring him to a place where he can see that Jesus experienced the same wounds that all of us experience, and know for himself that such wounds can be rendered powerless.

Jesus’ wounds are a sign of how God sees all of us with our limited human wounds that can keep us from knowing the Risen Christ and sharing it with others.  God does not see us as hopeless.  God sees our wounds in the Person of Jesus as the means by which God brought salvation to the world.  If we can only allow ourselves to see God’s unconditional love through our own wounds and be open to God’s perfect power in our weakness; we can be a source of acceptance and healing for the world around us.

“What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by his grace” (RB:1980 The Rule of Saint Benedict. The Prologue, vs 41. p.165).

How does the encounter with Thomas and Jesus reflect your own experience with the Risen Christ?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

See: cos-osb.org

Reflection on Doubt, Faith and Believing.

St. Thomas

 

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.

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB