Throughout our lives there are probably a lot of things that we don’t understand and have been told we must then “take it on faith.” Things that we have been told about but have not experienced for ourselves generally fall into this category. That’s probably why I have great compassion for the Apostle Thomas who was not with “the others” when Jesus appeared in the upper room on Easter night (and which we read on this day in JN 20: 18-31).
Thomas sounds like a concrete thinker – someone who needed to see with his own eyes in order to believe something. When the others told him about the appearance of Jesus, he was quite clear about his feelings. “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands,” he said, “and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” I can fully understand those sentiments; I mean, it isn’t every day that someone comes back from the dead, or even from a dreadful disease!
I can also feel with Thomas when Jesus appeared again and Thomas was there. The whole scene must have been crushing for Thomas, at least on the level of his ego. I have to believe that Jesus was exuding so much love, when he invited Thomas to do what he said he would need to do in order to believe, that Thomas was not awash in shame but suffused with the love coming toward him from Jesus.
I am amazed when I think that I have never doubted my faith in God. What a gift! That comes in large part from my family and life experiences of people whose faith has been a strong example to me. When I am sometimes convinced, however, that I am right about something, especially something important, I would do well to stop and consider the humility of Thomas as well as the words of Jesus at the conclusion of this lesson: Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.