Ephesians 2:19-22 “…with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord…”
Psalm 117: 1bc, 2 “…Go out to all the world and tell the Good News…”
John 20: 24-29 “… 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.’…”
St. Thomas, Apostle When we hear this Apostle’s name, we think of the words he spoke in today’s Gospel, as he reacted to not being present when Jesus appeared to the others after his resurrection; Thomas did not believe them. But Thomas was also the one who was willing to risk his life to join Jesus in going to Bethany when they got the word that Lazarus was dying. With Jesus’ enemies accumulating charges to arrest him, they all knew their lives would be in danger to travel that close to Jerusalem with him.
Our Gospel reading sites the most famous encounter of the good St. Thomas, where he got the name Doubting Thomas. We recall this Gospel scene because we can relate to Thomas’ reaction of disbelief, because like him, we weren’t there either. It’s almost as if he represents all of us who did not see Jesus’ appearance after his death and resurrection. In the Liturgy of Hours, Office of Readings for today, Pope Gregory the Great says in his homily that it was not by chance that this apostle was absent when the others were there the first time. He goes on to say “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. 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.” We realize that Thomas has expressed what is in our hearts from time to time. And when he does see Jesus at a second appearance, he says to him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) and he becomes our eye witness.
If I had been Thomas I wonder how I would have reacted; would I have believed even though I hadn’t seen? By that time, I would have witnessed many healings which could not be explained, and Lazarus would have been brought back to life after being dead for 4 days, no way to explain that phenomenon. But, it seems there were always things going on around Jesus that could not be explained. So, I could see myself saying, no way . . really? Bringing Thomas’ words in to our time makes all the difference as today we can relate to his feelings of disbelief. He has articulated for future generations an explanation of our feelings today, but then helped us cross over to belief. Oh God, help my unbelief, is a prayer I pray often.
Like the people Thomas would meet in his travel to teach the Good News, the people of Ephesus were also Gentiles. In this way and others, our first reading from the Letter to the Ephesians connects us to Thomas as well. St. Thomas is a patron saint of architects, and the language of our first reading talks about the building up of the Church faithful, with Jesus being the capstone and the community of believers having a foundation from the Apostles and the prophets.
So today we might take advantage of one who’s gone before us, let us ask for the intercession of the Good St. Thomas and pray for a steadfast spirit to persevere in our Faith, so as to be able to pass it on to the next generation. Amen
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