Today is the Feast of St. Thomas, the Apostle, the best known “doubter” in history. I can relate to Thomas and his distrust, but I take comfort in the first words Jesus says when he enters the room where Doubting Thomas awaits: “Peace be with you.” Jesus doesn’t scold him or get angry but offers him peace. Then he offers him proof: “Put your finger here and see my hands and bring your hand and put it into my side.”
Jesus, who knows me in my humanity and understands me so intimately, offers me peace in the midst of my doubts and fears. I want to stop there. I want peace to be at the center of my life and my faith and not listen to the invitation beyond Jesus blessing me with peace. But at the very heart of Christianity is the crucifix. Our lives are filled with suffering and complicated by the fact that those we love suffer. Many days I don't want to look at the suffering anymore or the crucifix. I just want to think of the love and the peace.
In today’s gospel we are not only offered peace but we are asked to go beyond that and to enter into the wounds of Jesus. He holds out his hands to us and asks us to put our finger into them, to put aside our own fears long enough to enter them and to understand that the suffering Jesus went through is what allows him to offer us peace.
The invitation from Jesus asks us to enter into the wounds of others. He wants us to do as he has done entering into the suffering and pain of others, and pay less attention to our own. Over and over in the gospels he looks to the poor and outcast, those on the fringes of society and those who are despised. They are people we read about in the newspaper and people who populate our own lives and families. We do not want to be a part of their suffering because they are difficult and complicated and He asks us to enter into their pain and carry our faith and his peace with us as we do it.
We were not in the upper room with Thomas and the others and did not see Jesus speak or touch his hands. To those of us who have followed the apostles, he sends encouragement. “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” It is a blessing for all of us who have doubted and feared and been reluctant to place our fingers into his nail hole. Despite our very human reactions, or because of it, we have believed anyway, and he blesses us with peace.
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