Today the Church remembers a person of great faith but also a person of great doubt.
The Gospel story we hear today takes place on the eve of the Resurrection. The Apostles, and others were gathered in the Upper Room, the place of the Last Supper, and they had locked the doors. They were afraid of what was going to happen next. Their entire world had changed in the last few days and they did not yet understand why. For some reason Thomas was not present at this time.
Jesus appears in their midst and says, “Peace be with you!” I can only imagine what they were thinking! Just think about it. You just buried someone that you know and love. The next day someone comes and tells you that the grave is open and the body is gone and the gardener has told you that he has been raised. Now you are more frightened then you were before. So you and your friends are in hiding, and no one knows where you are. Then, poof, the person appears in front of you out of thin air and all He has to say is Peace! WOW! I don‘t know about you but I would be a little freaked out.
At this point in the story Jesus gives them their first commission. To forgive sins, the ministry of Confession that we have all come to know and love. Notice how He breathes on them, just as He did in the Genesis story after the creation of humanity when He breathed in humanities nostrils, He imparted His Sprit, his Ruah, His very essence into Humanities nostrils and now He does them same thing here. He gave them His essence for Ministry, the Gospel tells us He gave them the Holy Spirit, the tools we need for ministry, in other words, Jesus ordained them in the Upper Room.
Now Thomas was missing. Again we do not know why at first glance but we learn latter on why he was not there. So Thomas hears about Jesus coming back and He does not believe. Again, put yourself in the story. You come home and your friends tell you that Jesus, whom you saw crucified and buried, came and spoke to them. I would think they were smoking something! Thomas does not believe and in fact says that unless he can touch Jesus with his own hands he will not believe. Thomas has to wait a week for what happens next. Also notice that if you miss Church you miss a lot!
So eight days later Jesus appears to them again, and says Peace to you! This time Thomas is there. I can just see him over in the corner, working the buffet and all of a sudden, poof, Jesus is there! I bet he dropped his plate! Jesus say to Thomas go ahead and touch me, “reach your finger here and put it in my side” “Look at my hands” Do not be unbelieving but believing! WOW! What do you say at this point! Hey, Jesus, I was just kidding? Its okay I’m good but thanks anyway. Jesus does not force Thomas to touch Him; Jesus does not force Thomas to believe, just like He does not force us to believe. He just waits, all eyes are on Thomas. All are there, waiting to see what Thomas is going to do.
Although the Gospel does not say this, I can imagine that Thomas fell to his knees and in a loud voice exclaimed, “My Lord and My God!” Thomas believes so that we all can believe.
It is important to note that when the Theotokos was dying all of the Apostles were transported to her side, again except Thomas. He came after she had died and wanted to see her body before he would believe.
We all have doubts, we all have disbelief. This is common and Jesus understands this. We all need answers to our questions even the ones that do not have answers. Lord I believe, help my unbelief!” This is a common phrase among those of us who are believers. We believe because someone told us the story and we have faith. Remember what Jesus said about faith, with faith the size of a mustard seed you can move mountains, do we believe that? Do we believe that with faith we can do anything? We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, we are part of the family of God the Father and we can do anything if we do it in the name of God!
Lord I believe help my unbelief!
We believe but at the same time we have doubts.
Last week we witnessed some of the most brutal weather our country has seen in a long time. Hundreds of people have died and thousands have lost everything. It is at times like these that people ask how can God let this happen? Where was God for those people? Why did God not protect them? Maybe we have asked these questions ourselves? Sometimes we cannot make sense out of things and maybe we are not supposed to be able to.
Jesus had been crucified, died, and was buried. The Apostles thought that was end. They thought their world had ended and they did not know what was going to happen next. They were afraid. Jesus comes to them and breaths on them and makes things a little better for them. Their world had completely changed and would never ever be the same. Most of them would lose their life because of what they witnessed. But they had faith, the faith that could move mountains and they did not do it alone, they did it with the strength of the Holy Spirit.
Lord I believe, help my belief.
What is God asking of us today, what is He calling us to do? Yes we are afraid and we are in the upper room not knowing what comes next, the Jesus comes and tells us it will all be okay. Jesus is telling us to reach out our hands to touch his side and the nail prints in His hands. Do we have to touch them or will be, as Thomas did, fall on our knees and believe?