Monday, April 15, 2013

St. Thomas

St. Thomas was one of the twelve apostles, yet despite devoting his life to preaching Christ, he is most remembered as “doubting Thomas.” He wasn’t there when the other disciples first saw the risen Christ, and when he heard their story, said he couldn’t believe it unless he touched the wounds of Christ himself. Christ shows Thomas his wounds and says, “You come to believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:29). 

Thomas often gets criticized, I think unfairly, for his doubt. The other apostles had witnessed something he hadn’t. Their story seemed unbelievable and certainly unprecedented. I can understand why Thomas wouldn’t immediately take them at their word. And while Christ says, “Blessed are those who have no seen and have believed,” he still provides Thomas the evidence he is looking for. Thomas is allowed to touch Christ’s wounds; he is not denied or punished. Not all of us have the opportunity Thomas had to see the post-resurrection, pre-ascension Christ. Those who believe without seeing are blessed because we believe without having to stick our hand in Jesus’ side. But I’m not going to fault Thomas for seeking evidence that was available to him. Maybe I just see a lot of myself in him.
Many non-believers cite lack of evidence for their reason of non-belief. They want peer-reviewed, physical evidence. But the problem with that is that the supernatural by definition supersedes the natural. God exists throughout and beyond the physical world and our understanding of evidence. It’s difficult for us to let go of our list of demands and trust God for just being God. I imagine St. Thomas has sympathy for non-believers who demand physical proof and prays for them.

I think it’s ok to doubt stories you hear secondhand. I think it’s ok to question, even if you’re questioning God. I think it’s ok to be uncertain and confused as long as you are sincere and seeking and willing to take a step of faith. You can’t let doubt consume you, but you can’t let gullibility or confidence consume you either. Faith is a balancing act of questions, answers, evidence, experiences, and trust.
Thomas is believed to have preached as far as India, where he was martyred in 72. He is the patron of architects, and his feast day is July 3.

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