I find the lives of the Apostles some of the most interesting of all of the saints that we have in the Church. I often wonder what Jesus was thinking when He chose the ones that He did. One would betray Him, one would deny Him, two would argue over who would be the greatest. When He went to pray, they fell asleep, and when He needed them the most the deserted Him.
Today we focus on the figure of St. Thomas. Thomas, like the rest of them, was imperfect but in the end, like the rest of them, became great. For some reason, Thomas was not in the room with the rest of them, perhaps he was in the hall getting coffee hour ready for after the service, who knows, but he was not there when Jesus appeared to them. See what happens when you miss church!
The others were so excited that Jesus had returned to them. They could not wait to tell Thomas what had happened he was like, “yea right.” Thomas, the one who witnessed countless healings, saw the four days dead Lazarus risen from the Tomb, saw the blind see and the lame walk, was not going to believe that Jesus had risen until he touched him and spoke to him in person. He was not about to take the word of others.
So Thomas had to wait eight days. Imagine everyone talking about something for eight days and you have no clue what was going on. Each day you would hear to story, Yea Jesus sat with me last week and we talked about all kinds of stuff. The other question I have is when Jesus came he breathed on them and gave them the Holy Spirit, Thomas was not there, so did he not get the Holy Spirit? Again, see what happens when you miss Church!
Scripture tells us that eight days later they were gathered again and Jesus appeared to them. This time Thomas was there, he was not about to make that mistake again. I bet he was right down front just waiting, looking at his watch, waiting for Jesus to appear. Jesus comes before them, gives them the greeting, Peace be with you, and then sees Thomas. He does not ask Thomas where he was last week, he says to him, touch me, go ahead, put your hand in my side, see the place of the nails, go ahead, reach out your hand and touch me.
Thomas looks at Jesus, and exclaims, “My Lord and My God!”
Thomas exclaims who Jesus is and in this one act, Thomas turns from doubt to belief. This simple fisherman became one of the greatest Evangelists in the Church.
Tradition tells us that St. Thomas founded Churches in Palestine, Mesopotamia, Ethiopia, and India. Tradition also tells us that St. Thomas baptized the Magi and was martyred in India for preaching the Gospel.
St John Chrysostom says this about Thomas, “Thomas, being once weaker in faith than the other apostles, toiled through the grace of God more bravely, more zealously and tirelessly than them all, so that he went preaching over nearly all the earth, not fearing to proclaim the Word of God to savage nations.”
This is the story of the Resurrection in miniature. What was once soiled and tarnished has been beautified once again. The doubt and disbelief of Thomas was turned on its ear and the doubt was turned into belief. Thomas found in Christ the strength he needed for the journey that he was about to undertake, he is the visual of the saying that God will prepare us for what He is asking us to do.
Thomas found the boldness that was needed to preach the Gospel in a world that is hostile to the message of that Gospel. Thomas found the boldness to stand up for what is right and not just what is popular, even though it meant his being thrown into prison and his eventual martyrdom for the faith.
We must find this same boldness that Thomas had and be able to preach Christ, through our actions, in season and out of season. We must stand up for what is right, not just what is popular, and we must be the voice of those who have no voice, and if asked too, we must be willing to face martyrdom for it.
Let us be like Thomas and witness Christ and fear not God will prepare us for it.