03Jul Saturday July 3, 2021. St Thomas, Apostle

Saturday, July 3, 2021

St Thomas, Apostle (Feast)

First reading Ephesians 2:19-22

In Christ you are no longer aliens, but citizens like us

You are no longer aliens or foreign visitors: you are citizens like all the saints, and part of God’s household. You are part of a building that has the apostles and prophets for its foundations, and Christ Jesus himself for its main cornerstone. As every structure is aligned on him, all grow into one holy temple in the Lord; and you too, in him, are being built into a house where God lives, in the Spirit.

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 116(117):1-2

R./: Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News.

O praise the Lord, all you nations,
acclaim him all you peoples! (R./)

Strong is his love for us;
he is faithful for ever.(R./)

Gospel John 20:24-29

‘My Lord and my God!’

Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, ‘We have seen the Lord’, he answered, ‘Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.’ Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. ‘Peace be with you’ he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.’ Thomas replied, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him:

‘You believe because you can see me.
Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.’

Graced by a skeptic

What was wrong with Thomas the twin? Why was he such a doubter? On Easter Day, the other disciples had experienced the risen Jesus, vividly. He appeared among them – mysteriously – even though the doors were shut. To prove that he was no mere ghostly apparition, but the same Jesus who had been crucified, he showed them his hands and his side. They all recognised him as the very one they knew and loved, for he spoke with the same kindness and with the same authority as before. There was recognisable continuity, as well as something mysterious and new. He wished them peace, breathed new heart into them, gave them their mission and shared his spirit with them. But Thomas was not there to share their experience, so his first instinct was to dismiss it as an illusion. Thomas was a born skeptic, unwilling or unable to believe in good news.

About Thomas’s innate pessimism we get some earlier hints in John’s Gospel. When Jesus, against the wishes of his disciples, decided to go up to Jerusalem, it was Thomas who took a gloomy view of the idea: “Yes, let us also go to die with him” (Jn 11:16). Characteristically, he expected the worst. “When, on another occasion Jesus assured his disciples that by dying he’d be returning to the Father, Thomas objected: “We do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?” (Jn 14:4, 5). It’s not so surprising then, when the others were telling him of the Resurrection, that Thomas ran true to form: “Unless I can see the holes that the nails made in his hands. . . and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe” (Jn 20:25).

We must be grateful to Thomas for arguing as he did. His being slow to believe shows he was a doubter by temperament like so many of us. His recovery of faith can help us renew our faith, to vicariously put our fingers into the holes and our hand into the Lord’s side. He needed the visual and the tactile; he wanted solid proof. Ultimately, he needed a personal encounter with the risen Lord.

How might the Congregation for Doctrine and the Faith have treated a person like Thomas, who publicly voiced his doubts? Would the have silenced and sidelined him from being an apostle, by a process both secretive and authoritarian? In responding with such understanding to Thomas’s skepticism, Jesus was considerate of us all. No Gospel scene about the Resurrection is more tangible than this one . For all his doubting, Thomas became a channel of faith for us. He responded with the loveliest prayer of all – more than an act of faith, an act of commitment and surrender: “My Lord and my God!”