Monday, July 2, 2012

Feast of Saint Thomas, Apostle

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But Thomas said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he 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.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

(John 20: 24-29)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I want to spend these next few minutes in your company reflecting on your Gospel so that I might know and love you more. I am a sinner in need of your grace. Please do not take into account my unworthiness, but rather look at my desire to love and serve you. You are the true source of fulfillment and happiness in my life. Help me to seek you and your will with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. Enlighten my mind to know your divine will for me, inflame my heart to love it with passion, strengthen my will to fulfill it with perfection. Reveal yourself to my soul.

Petition: Lord, make my faith strong so that it becomes a solid rock upon which I can build my life.

1. Thomas wants certainty
Thomas wants to be certain that Jesus has in fact risen from the dead. He is not ready to take the others’ word for it. He is not wrong in desiring this certainty. All of us should want to be certain about what we affirm as our faith, and we must look for those reasons that give us certainty. We cannot play a game of “let’s pretend that what we affirm is true.” Every Sunday, we profess our belief that Christ is risen from the dead, but it this affirmation is nothing more than a vague notion, then what kind of Christians are we? Our certainty does not lie in the fact that we have seen the Risen Lord but in our faith. 

2. Our faith has a real foundation
We can chide Thomas for his insistence on seeing Christ himself with the nail marks in his hands before he will believe, but his insistence on seeing Christ brings out a very important aspect of our faith.
Our faith is founded on the material, historical reality of Christ’s resurrection. If Christ did not rise from the dead our faith is void. Our faith in Christ cannot be separated from the material reality of the resurrection. In a sense we too can say with Thomas “Unless I see the mark of the nails…” for if the marks of the nails do not truly exist than there is no reason to be a Christian.

3. We are those who have not seen and have believed
Jesus was referring to us when he said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” He had us in mind, all of the generations of Christians who would follow him without seeing him. Jesus says that we are blessed. It is our faith that brings us this blessing, the faith that has been passed down from the first apostles who did see the risen Lord. Perhaps we would like to think that it would be much more special to have seen the risen body of Christ, but Christ himself declares that those who are truly blessed are the ones who believe without seeing.

Dialogue with Christ: Lord, I know that faith is a gift from you, please give me a strong and lasting faith. I do believe that you truly rose from the dead. I will not ask to see the nail marks or to put my hand in your side, but I know those marks are truly there, and on the truth of their existence I rest my faith in your resurrection. There are many people who have heard of your resurrection and still do not believe. I know I am blessed, for it is only by your grace that I am able to see with the eyes of faith the truth about your life, death and resurrection. Thank you for the gift of faith.

Resolution: I will pray for those who do not believe.

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