3 July [St Thomas, apostle]
Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe." A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."
The others said to Thomas, “We have seen….” Thomas said, “Until I have seen….” What's the difference? None. The others believed because they had seen; why shouldn’t Thomas insist on the same?
Thomas has been unfairly nicknamed “Doubting Thomas.” Of course, the gospel writer has us in mind. Like Thomas, we’re late on the scene – much later. We have to be reassured; we are the real Doubting Thomases.
He invites us as he invited Thomas to “put your finger here and see my hands; stretch out your hand and put it into my side.” Everything has to come back at last to experience. “Today,” wrote St Bernard of Clairvaux in the 12th century, “we read the book of experience.” That sentence might have been written this morning. We need to be reassured that our experience, however painful or discouraging, has the power to bring us to Christ. Most of us know the wounds of Christ first-hand. Information and theoretical knowledge are not enough. St Paul didn’t say, “We have reflected at length on the death of Jesus.” He wrote, “We went down into the tomb with him, and joined him in death” (Rom 6:4). “We are now dying with him on his cross, in his pains and Passion,” wrote Julian of Norwich in the 14th century, “and when we deliberately remain on that same cross, holding on to the very end, with his help and grace, then suddenly we shall see his expression change and we shall be with him in heaven. Without a moment’s break we shall pass from one state the other – and we shall all be brought into joy.”
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