I was sitting in church this morning for my first Saturday devotion. We had an excellent homily on St. Thomas, the “doubting” Apostle. It struck me that, in a great many ways, we are similar to Thomas.
The Return of the Lord
If you don’t know the story, the Apostles were crowded upstairs behind a locked door, afraid that the crowds of Jerusalem were going to find him and them and put them to death.
Just as Jesus promised, He appeared before the apostles, startling all of them. That’s when He “Peace be with you.” He urged his friends.
I can only imagine how shocked they were! Their friend died three days ago, crucified, buried. Earlier that day, they found the tomb to be empty. What thoughts ran through their minds?
The crowds took the body? Maybe the Romans? The Pharisees? I’m sure the Lord’s Mother knew and that quiet faith in her son’s promise. But what about the Apostles.
How would you feel if you believed the man you served, the King of Israel, was crucified? A man, a special and innocent man, had died as a common criminal. Wouldn’t you feel discouraged? Now his killers were looking for you!
Now, that same man appeared before you, wouldn’t you be startled? A man returns from the dead. Wouldn’t you see that Jesus was no ordinary man?
Where was Thomas?
That’s my question. Thomas, why weren’t you with the rest of your friends?
Maybe you were discouraged. Perhaps you felt betrayed, investing so much love and energy into a man who had promised to rule over Israel. How could you believe that He would return?
In a way, it’s understandable to see why he wasn’t there. But, on the other hand, I would have felt disillusioned, and I think that’s why we got to visit with Thomas.
I ponder to myself, why isn’t life going how I expected. Maybe you got a job, and it isn’t what you expected. Perhaps you were fired from a job. Perhaps your relationships are filled with conflict. Why? Why God? Why?
How often do we walk away from the Lord, the church, or the people we love with a feeling of hurt and betrayal. I think that’s what St. Thomas felt as he wandered through the streets of Jerusalem. My friend died a cruel and unjust death!
I would be hurt by that, too. Why do you think Thomas was away from his fellow Apostles? Maybe he thought they were pulling a fast one over him.
It’s hard to say. We do know that Thomas had friends, and they came to get him.
“THOMAS! THE LORD HAS APPEARED! EVERYTHING HE SAID IS TRUE!”
How would you feel if your friends were saying this over your dead friend? What a cruel joke they would be making, right? It might even sting.
“No way.” Thomas would have replied, “I don’t believe you. Unless I touch his wounds, I will not believe.”
Do not persist in your unbelief.
Thomas reluctantly followed his friends back up to the original meeting place and locked the doors. Then, just as before, Jesus appeared before them.
I can only imagine Jesus looking down at an utterly dumbfounded Thomas when Jesus said,
“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.” John 20:27
Thomas would have dropped his knees with tears of joy and sorrow in his eyes as he proclaimed, “My Lord and my God.”
It often takes a miracle for us to break out of our limited mindset and negative thinking. Thomas was lucky. Jesus appeared to him and performed one of the greatest miracles for us.
Yet Jesus tells Him, and to all of us, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
I believe we are called to trust in God. To know that He is working in our past interest, even if everything is dark and gloomy. And if we persevere and keep walking in that mindset of faith, we too will be blessed.
It’s a challenging idea to accept a harsh reality we might find ourselves in, yet we are called to trust in a greater miracle.
That, I believe, is the essence of faith. It is easy to believe when things are going well. It is tough to believe when things look bad.