Tag Archives: St Thomas

Thomas doubt exists today

communion byzantineThe Second Sunday of Easter presents to us the gospel reading of the Thomas doubting the existence of the risen Lord. The day has many names.

This gospel is proclaimed in the Novus Ordo, the Traditional and Byzantine Liturgies. In the Novus Ordo Liturgy today’s Mass can be referred to as Divine Mercy Sunday. The Latin Mass calls today Low Sunday (after the great solemn feast of Easter), or today is called dominica in albis depositis or “the Sunday in which the white clothes are put away”.  Yet another way of referring to today is “Quasimodo Sunday”, because of the first words of the entrance antiphon sung for the Latin Mass which uses the words taken from Peter, Quasi modo geniti infantes, Halleluja, rationabile, sine dolo lac concupiscite (“yearn for the pure spiritual milk as if you were newborn children”).

In all these names, what can we say about this portion of the mystery of the faith in Christian today? If you think about the truth Jesus presented to the Apostles about Himself, it seems that truth is not as convincing as the doubt some put forward as reasonable. I am not quite sure I understand the penchant we have for doubting reasonableness of truth, but doubt exists and I have come to believe that God uses doubt to teach us the meaning of beauty, goodness and truth. Thomas, later revered as a saint and founder of the Church in India, tells us with certitude that the Lord is alive after death on the cross but only after verifying the physicality of the person Jesus when he says, My Lord and my God. He is said by Jesus that he blessed for what he has seen.

Doubting ThomasIn the Byzantine Liturgy the Troparion of St Thomas is sung: While the tomb was sealed You shone forth from it, O Christ our Life, and while the doors remained closed, You stood among your Disciples, O Resurrection of all, and through them You restored a new spirit in us according to your great Mercy.

Today, we are faced with some similar doubts about Jesus, the sacraments and Christian  life. Doubt is not new. And, perhaps Saint Thomas did us a favor in recognizing the concrete facts of our faith. Coming to Catholic faith means that we proclaim from whom salvation comes. It means that we are to be missionary so that all people come before the Lord.

One piece of our Catholic life is faith in the Holy Eucharist: faith in the Divine Presence here and now in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Teaching adults about First Holy Communion is difficult –think of the difficulty there is teaching third graders about the Presence of Jesus in Holy Communion. I recall what is called a Eucharistic miracle where a priest doubted the presence of Jesus in the sacred Host and the Lord gave the priest the a sign of Divine Presence by turing the host in heart muscle and the wine into blood.

The English theologian Monsignor Ronald Knox this about the Holy Eucharist: “We have never, as Christians, been truly faithful to Jesus, no matter our denomination. In the end none of us have truly followed those teachings which most characterize Jesus- We have not turned the other cheek. We have not forgiven our enemies. We have not purified our thoughts. We have not seen God in the poor. We have not kept our hearts pure and free from the things of this world. But we have been faithful in one very important way- we have kept the Eucharist going.”

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.

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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