Friday, July 03, 2009

Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle

Today the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Thomas, Apostle. As I've probably written on here before, the Church encourages us to whisper St. Thomas' words at Mass during the elevation of the Eucharist at the consecration: "My Lord and my God". The following is from

Poor Thomas! He made one remark and has been branded as “Doubting Thomas” ever since. But if he doubted, he also believed. He made what is certainly the most explicit statement of faith in the New Testament: “My Lord and My God!” (see John 20:24-28) and, in so expressing his faith, gave Christians a prayer that will be said till the end of time. He also occasioned a compliment from Jesus to all later Christians: “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:29).

Thomas should be equally well known for his courage. Perhaps what he said was impetuous—since he ran, like the rest, at the showdown—but he can scarcely have been insincere when he expressed his willingness to die with Jesus. The occasion was when Jesus proposed to go to Bethany after Lazarus had died. Since Bethany was near Jerusalem, this meant walking into the very midst of his enemies and to almost certain death. Realizing this, Thomas said to the other apostles, “Let us also go to die with him” (John 11:16b).


Thomas shares the lot of Peter the impetuous, James and John, the “sons of thunder,” Philip and his foolish request to see the Father—indeed all the apostles in their weakness and lack of understanding. We must not exaggerate these facts, however, for Christ did not pick worthless men. But their human weakness again points up the fact that holiness is a gift of God, not a human creation; it is given to ordinary men and women with weaknesses; it is God who gradually transforms the weaknesses into the image of Christ, the courageous, trusting and loving one.

“...[P]rompted by the Holy Spirit, the Church must walk the same road which Christ walked: a road of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice to the death.... For thus did all the apostles walk in hope. On behalf of Christ's Body, which is the Church, they supplied what was wanting in the sufferings of Christ by their own trials and sufferings (see Colossians 1:24)” (Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity, 5).


At 9:10 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

I've always wondered about what is thought about St. Thomas with the phrase, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Because Thomas says (and to the best of my knowledge he is the only one who actually says these words, "My Lord and my God.”) Thomas sees Christ in the flesh and yet proclaims him as both Lord and God. So, is Thomas considered one of those “blessed” because he sees more than what is obviously in front of him- Christ in the flesh and yet recognizes the unseen, God?

At 4:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do believe Thomas is one of the "blessed", blessed through knowing that he does not have blind faith, and more importantly, blessed because he is humble enough to admit to his weakness. Thomas is not present in the upper room when Jesus makes his first post resurrection appearance. The other disciples tell him that they have seen the Lord and Thomas boldly asserts, “I will never believe it without probing the nail prints in his hands, without putting my finger in the nail marks and my hand into his side" (John 20:25). Thomas needs evidence and proof, not hearsay. When Thomas finally has the proof he needs, he is overwhelmed by what he sees, by what he experiences in the reality of the risen Savior. In that moment, Thomas doubts no more and profoundly summarizes the uniqueness of Jesus with four simple words, "My Lord and My God!" (John 20:28).

I believe Thomas is blessed because of his humility, his genuine desire to know Christ, and his ability to listen and acknowledge his soul. Thomas' words of doubt were probably not exactly popular and main stream – they certainly did not express the opinion his comrades. In fact, some 2,000 years later, we still refer to him as "Doubting Thomas", a less than flattering way of remembering a disciple. I can envision the other 11 disciples standing around him, with a quizzical look and thinking, "Hmmm…. Some disciple you are. When it comes to the nitty gritty of real faith, where's yours?" The bottom line, as I see it, is that it was Thomas' humility, his understanding and admission of his lack of faith that was his real "blessing". For, if Thomas had not been humble enough to stand next to his friends and admit his weakness, admit that he really didn't have blind faith, he would not have been blessed with looking at Jesus and realizing that He is the Messiah, the son of God, and that through faith, we have life forever, in His name.

At 5:17 PM, Anonymous mindy said...

Thanks to the anon of 4:07. To be honest, I have had my own requirements of proof in my faith. I had to humble myself to admit it, and when I finally did that- I can't quite describe the depth of change that has occured in my life, let alone my faith.

Thanks for your insight.


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