1st Reading: EPH 2: 19-22.
R Psalm: PS 117: 1BC-2.
Gospel: JN 20: 24-29.
Today we come together to celebrate the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle. Thomas was born in Galilee in the Roman Empire in the 1st Century AD.
Thomas is said to have travelled outside of the Roman Empire, preaching the Gospel as one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus. He also has the nickname of ‘doubting Thomas’, because as it tells us in today’s Gospel reading of JN 20:24-29, Thomas had doubts at first when he heard that Jesus had risen from the dead and had indeed appeared to the other Apostles, saying, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” (V. 25). But when Jesus appeared to him later and invited him to touch his wounds and behold him, Thomas finally showed his belief by saying, “My Lord and My God.” (V. 28). Jesus then told him, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.” (V. 29).
Haven’t we all had doubts at some point in our life of faith just like Thomas? The true fact is that we are human and nobody in this life has a faith which is perfect. But our imperfect faith is always able to continue to bloom and deepen.
There are many things which at times we could doubt just as Thomas did about things of our faith lives. Maybe it could be doubts about our salvation, or doubt about God’s love for us- especially in times of suffering, illness or hardship. Maybe we may doubt the reliability of the holy word of God in the scriptures sometimes- this can happen in the world we are in that sadly, often, misinterprets the word for their own agenda thereby possibly causing confusion.
However, having times of doubt does not mean that we have lost our faith, we can use our times of doubt to by trusting God, to build a type of bridge that can lead to stronger faith.
In ministry, we are bound to come across those with doubts in parts of their faith life. We should consider the following when dealing with this:
1. We should have mercy on those who are doubting. We are told in Jude 22, to “have mercy on those who doubt.” It is far too easy for us to fall into the trap of judging them, of condemning them, or to see them as being less Christian than ourselves. However, if we have mercy on doubters, we are there for them. We can and ought to comfort them and build them up.
2. We must be prepared to live with mystery: As humans, there are times when we expect the answers to everything and to know all full understanding of God before we are totally willing to commit our entire lives to him. Yes, God has revealed to us much, and there is much we are able to understand, but there are also those things that we cannot begin to comprehend that belong to God alone, as we are told in (Deut 29:29). We merely need to trust God entirely and to use that which we do understand to be enough for us to rest in God with the things beyond our comprehension.
3. We shouldn’t give doubt the courtesy that we do not give to our faith. If we are able to doubt, then surely we should be able to doubt those doubts and to question them in our hearts. As Christians we can be sure that doubt will never outweigh the central truths of our faith which we do comprehend. Yes, doubts may be a pesky nuisance that pesters us, but if we learn to question our doubts, never should these be able to overthrow our faith.
If we return to Jude 22, which as we have already discussed, about having mercy on those who doubt, it matters not whether that doubt is with ourselves or in our brothers and sisters. It goes for both equally, it says have mercy and so let us do so.
Let us pray:
Lord Jesus Christ, the light of your love shines on, illuminating the places where you are present. As the bewildered Apostle Thomas heard of your appearance to the other Apostles, you penetrated the darkness of his doubt with your word of peace. You showed Thomas the appalling marks of your sacrifice for us, you opened his mind and his heart to understand and to believe. Increase our understanding, we pray, and open our minds and hearts to receive you Lord. Speak to us your word of peace and let your love shine on any dark or doubting areas of our faith in you.
In your precious name we pray. Amen.