Tag Archives: St Thomas

Saint Thomas the Apostle

St Thomas 13th cent MSSaint Thomas the Apostle is celebrated by the Christian Churches today. Not much is known of Thomas but John’s gospel plugs us in at some very key moments in the Lord’s mission.

He’s the apostle –one of the 12– that tradition says brought the Good News to is today called India. Thomas died a martyr’s death. Likewise, Thomas is famous for wanting to see, to have concrete proof of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. But I wonder if this is the most important part of Thomas’ life. Something tells me there is more than this apostle’s famous query: “not unless I probe the side of Jesus will I believe…” This 13th century German illumination illustrates the biblical narrative.

The Lord blesses us, in his beatitude as he prepares to return the Father: he gives the grace to know at some fundamental human level that those who do not have such sight and tactile proof may believe. That’s Good News for which to give thanks. Thomas had his God-mission; what is your mission for the Kingdom?

What Thomas reveals

My Lord and My God Ruberval MonteiroOn this Octave Day of Easter we hear the Gospel of Doubting Thomas. For a long time we’ve used the phrase “Doubting Thomas” to portray the Apostle’s lack of belief. But I wonder if it is accurate to say Thomas doubted. And his words are more than a “trust but verify” philosophy.

I think we need to recall the revolutionary action of the Divine Majesty in resurrecting someone from the dead. Certainly we can point to Lazarus’ coming back from clutches of death but with Jesus’ resurrection from the dead there is something new, something truly never seen before: a glorified body. His body totally transfigured in the way it was on Mount Tabor and his wounds still present as a keen memory of the love-act that the Passion is. However, the resurrection from the dead is the gift based on our availability, that is, our complete openness, our yes, to the infinite possibility (meaning, the willingness to consider that there might be another way than the way humans generally conceive of life) which demonstrates that the mind and heart of man and woman may be regenerated by God the Father.

Thomas reveals a depth of person who did not deny but used his reason to verify what the Lord proposed. In freedom, Thomas approaches Jesus, now the Christ, encounters Him in a totally and intimate manner. If you notice, all of the apostles, including Mary Magdalen, had a particular relationship with Christ. For me, therefore, the gospel pericope on Saint Thomas is less about doubt (a complete rejection) than about a recognition of what Jesus said of Himself: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. A doubt is a question that is looking for certitude, for guidance, for true religion. Humans need the tangible to open the door to the mystical. Touching the Lord’s wounds is about the recognition. Here Thomas helps all others including the apostles. His mission is to tell the world about this new in-breaking into the world: God’s breaking death’s grip on humanity.

Pope Francis said today, “Jesus invites us to behold these wounds, to touch them as Thomas did, to heal our lack of belief. Above all, he invites us to enter into the mystery of these wounds, which is the mystery of his merciful love.”

From St. Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on John’s Gospel:

“As always, Christ has to be patient with Thomas when he said he would not believe and with the other disciples too when they thought they were seeing a ghost. Because of his desire to convince the whole world, he most willingly showed them the marks of the nails and the wound in his side; because he wished those who needed such signs as a support for their faith to have no possible reason for doubt, he even took food although he had no need for it.”

Saint Thomas

Sts Andrew and Thomas Bernini 1627Although the doors were closed,
Jesus appeared to his disciples.
He took away their fear and granted them peace.
Then He called Thomas and said to him:
“Why did you doubt My resurrection from the dead?
Place your hand in My side;
see My hands and My feet.
Through your lack of faith,
everyone will come to know of My passion and My resurrection,
and they will cry out with you:
My Lord and My God, glory to You!

Through the Apostles we come to know and love the Savior of humanity in ways unimaginable. Thomas, as the text from the Byzantine Liturgy for “Thomas Sunday” suggests, is a keen witness to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The miracle of trampling death by death itself requires of man and woman the openness to follow a witness who points, who interrogates, who gives voice to, a wonder never seen and experienced for now. The so-called doubts of Thomas can really be understood from the viewpoint of faith and reason: is it reason that a man be raised from the dead? Is it reasonable to speak about this fact from the eyes of faith? Thomas stands before the Lord and gives the answer in the affirmative. Faith is the capacity to see all of life, the small and the great, the seen and unseen, the common and the miraculous as a way of knowing. Thomas knows because of evidence; he has faith in the Lord Jesus because what the Lord taught is reasonable and recognizable. Blessed are those who believe.

Here is the post from last year.

In believing we may have life in Jesus

Duccio Doubting Thomas.jpg

The feast of Saint Thomas is Easter in summer: an opportunity to open a new door in what we  believe about in the Messiah. Saint Gregory notes below, God arranged His mercy particularly for us in concrete experience. He took the initiative once again.

With the Church, we pray:

Grant, almighty God, that we may glory in the Feast of the blessed Apostle Thomas, so that we may always be sustained by his intercession and, believing, may have life in the name of Jesus Christ your Son, whom Thomas acknowledged as the Lord.

From a homily on the Gospels by Saint Gregory the Great, pope

Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. He was the only disciple absent; on his return he heard what had happened but refused to believe it. The Lord came a second time; he offered his side for the disbelieving disciple to touch, held out his hands, and showing the scars of his wounds, healed the wound of his disbelief.

Dearly beloved, what do you see in these events? Do you really believe that it was by chance that this chosen disciple was absent, then came and heard, heard and doubted, doubted and touched, touched and believed? It was not by chance but in God’s providence. In a marvellous 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. So the disciple who doubted, then felt Christ’s wounds, becomes a witness to the reality of the resurrection.

Touching Christ, he cried out: My Lord and my God. Jesus said to him: Because you have seen me, Thomas, you have believed. Paul said: Faith is the guarantee of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. It is clear, then, that faith is the proof of what can not be seen. What is seen gives knowledge, not faith. When Thomas saw and touched, why was he told: You have believed because you have seen me? Because what he saw and what he believed were different things. God cannot be seen by mortal man. Thomas saw a human being, whom he acknowledged to be God, and said: My Lord and my God. Seeing, he believed; looking at one who was true man, he cried out that this was God, the God he could not see.

What follows is reason for great joy: Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed. There is here a particular reference to ourselves; we hold in our hearts one we have not seen in the flesh. We are included in these words, but only if we follow up our faith with good works. The true believer practices what he believes. But of those who pay only lip service to faith, Paul has this to say: They profess to know God, but they deny him in their works. Therefore James says: Faith without works is dead.

Saint Thomas

Thomas & Jesus window.jpg

Was Saint Thomas really doubting, skeptical, or trying understand a new reality he met in the risen Lord?  The so-called skepticism is seen as weakness but in the Christian way of looking at life, weakness is power. Doubt is really clarification. Thomas, is really an apostle of the Lord’s glorification as John’s Gospel indicates for us. I can also see Thomas as the apostle who loves the Lord with passion, with ardor, as when he tells the disciples to go with the Lord to the cross when witnessing to the death of Lazarus. Thomas is also the apostle of Christology. He asks, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, how can we know the way?” Jesus sets gives one of his clearest teachings of who He is: “I am the way, the truth and the life.” But somewhere along the path charted by Jesus Thomas doesn’t immediately accept what others have to say about the resurrection from the dead of Jesus but has to personally probe the fact.

Eusebius of Caesarea writes that Thomas evangelized the peoples of Persia; there is also the claim that he evangelized western India, founding what is known today as the Malabar Church, and later martyred there.

Like Thomas, Didymus, we’ve met the Lord in his glorious wounds and sometimes we miss what those wounds mean. Thomas is here to help us. Pope Francis tells us,

“We find Jesus’ wounds in carrying out works of mercy, giving to our body – the body – the soul too, but – I stress – the body of your wounded brother, because he is hungry, because he is thirsty, because he is naked because it is humiliated, because he is a slave, because he’s in jail because he is in the hospital. Those are the wounds of Jesus today. And Jesus asks us to take a leap of faith, towards Him, but through these His wounds. ‘Oh, great! Let’s set up a foundation to help everyone and do so many good things to help ‘. That’s important, but if we remain on this level, we will only be philanthropic. We need to touch the wounds of Jesus, we must caress the wounds of Jesus, we need to bind the wounds of Jesus with tenderness, we have to kiss the wounds of Jesus, and this literally. Just think of what happened to St. Francis, when he embraced the leper? The same thing that happened to Thomas: his life changed.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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