Ordinarily when we think of Saint Thomas, it’s not in a positive way. Often referred to as the original “Doubting Thomas”, this Apostle was known for refusing to believe in Our Lord’s resurrection until he saw Jesus with his own eyes. However, there are some positive things that we can glean from Thomas’ experiences. Let’s take a look at what some very knowledgeable individuals have to say. After doing so, you may see Thomas in a different light.
Thomas is primarily known for two incidents. In John 14:5, he asks Jesus, “Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” This gives the Lord the opportunity to respond, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.” While our first reaction is usually to criticize Thomas for being so unaware, Pope Benedict XVI observes that “his words provide Jesus with the opportunity to make His famous definition. Every time we hear or read these words, we can stand beside Thomas in spirit and imagine that the Lord is also speaking to us, just as he spoke to him…At the same time, his (Thomas’) question also confers upon us the right, so to speak, to ask Jesus for explanations. We do not often understand Him. Let us be brave enough to say: ‘I do not understand you, Lord; listen to me, help me to understand.’”
The more famous of Thomas’ encounters with Jesus occurs in John 20:26-31. Instead of taking the “usual” approach and criticizing Thomas for his apparent lack of faith, let’s look at the writings of two Saints and Doctors of the Church. In referring to Thomas’ profession of “My Lord and My God!”, Saint Augustine observed that Thomas “saw and touched the man, and acknowledged the God whom he neither saw nor touched; but by means of what he saw and touched, he now put far away from him every doubt, and believed the other.” Saint Gregory the Great summarized the same idea in a more succinct way when he stated that “Thomas saw one thing, but believed another. It is certain that mortal man cannot see divinity; therefore, he saw the man and recognized Him as God. In conclusion: seeing, he believed, because contemplating that real man he exclaimed that He was God.” In other words, Thomas had the faith to believe in the divinity of Jesus, even though He looked like a man!
After examining the evidence, I hope that you will agree that Saint Thomas did have faith. He also cared enough about following the Lord, that he asked questions when he didn’t understand. This is a good example for each of us. There are many things that we don’t understand about the Faith and about events that take place in our lives. Instead of disobeying the Church or getting angry at God, why not ask Him for enlightenment? There is no guarantee that the Lord will make everything clear to us, so we should also ask for an increased faith. This will enable us to trust Him more, even if we don’t understand all of the details. Then, like Saint Thomas, we will be able to proclaim our trust and belief with a strong voice:
“My Lord and My God!”