Doubting Thomas, CJ Kell Art Work.
[Jesus] said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” John 20:27.
I would not be surprised at all to find out that each one of us has been in Thomas’ sandals at sometime or other. After all, he was told that a man who had died publicly, had been buried and by all accounts whose tomb was guarded by Roman soldiers, had appeared to his colleagues a couple of days later, apparently not too much the worse for ware! Who would believe that? Well Thomas didn’t, until the unbelievable happened! Overwhelmed at the experience of Jesus’ second appearance to his disciples, he probably sank to his knees when he proclaimed “My Lord and My God!”, the one and only time Jesus is so addressed in the entire New Testament. It is one of the many unforgettable moments in Jesus’ life here on earth. And Thomas, I think, represents just about all of us, hence Jesus’ observation that those are blest who have not seen him, yet believe. Note that Jesus does not condemn Thomas’ unbelief, but rather takes this opportunity to talk, as it were, directly to us, that we, who have not seen, are blessed because we believe.
But Jesus seems to recognize and understand uncertainty and doubt. There does not seem to any disgrace attached to that. We have a Savior who is well able to accept us, doubts and all, without chastising us. It is very human to want proof to eliminate doubt. Indeed, modern science and almost the entire modern world has been constructed on such a foundation of trial and error. So perhaps this day, Divine Mercy Sunday, is a time to take stock. Remember the definition of mercy: Compassion on someone who does not deserve it. Jesus showed that to virtually everyone he met, including doubting Thomas. Thomas had seen the works of the Lord, the miracles and the fulfillment of ancient messianic prophecies in the ministry of Jesus, yet was adamant in his unbelief: 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. Pretty definite! Yet when confronted with the reality of the risen Lord, it was Thomas who addressed Jesus in his ultimate dignity as Lord and God, all doubt gone. In other words, Jesus let Thomas come to his own conclusions without correction or condemnation, a clear lesson for us all. The second reading from the Book of revelation, the last book of the New Testament, traditionally written by the same author as the gospel of John, takes this realisation further. The author falls at Jesus’ feet, who proclaims that he is the first and the last (the alpha Aα and the omega Ωω in the original Greek, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet), the one who holds the keys of death, yet lives forever. The Supreme Being if you like, in whom one can place all trust and faith.
Hence we should have no fear of being condemned for doubting or questioning. That is part of the human condition, and is the way to greater confidence and stability. But we should be open to whatever revelations come our way, and not block them with our own stubbornness and pride. To recognize goodness and love in others as a reflection of God’s life here and now is a great foundation. To accept that and become a reflection of it ourselves is to be a true child of God. In that way we ourselves become Christ to the world.
Christ the Alpha and Omega, Catacombs of Commodilla, 4th century, Rome, Italy .