The most essential part of our lives
Reflections on the readings for the Feast of St. Thomas (July 3, 2020): EPH 2:19-22; PS 117:1-2; JN 20:24-29
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Our Lord responds to Thomas with some of His most loved and memorable words in the New Testament...
This is the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle. Though mentioned in the lists of the Apostles in the other three Gospels, it is only in the Gospel according to St. John that we learn anything specific about Thomas. At the Last Supper, when Jesus tells the Apostles that they know the way to follow Him, it is Thomas who asks how this is possible since they do not know where He is going. Like the others, Thomas still does not understand what Christ is telling them about His death and Resurrection – or about who He is. Our Lord responds to Thomas with some of His most loved and memorable words in the New Testament: “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). We next hear about Thomas a week after Christ rose from the dead. Although the other Apostles had already seen Jesus on Easter Sunday, Thomas had not been with them. Despite their efforts to convince him about the truth of Jesus’ Resurrection, Thomas would not be convinced. Perhaps he always tended to be a skeptic. Perhaps he was feeling guilty for abandoning to Jesus to His arrest, punishment and crucifixion. Despite all the time he had spent with our Lord hearing His message and witnessing His miracles, Thomas still relied on his own human senses more than the person and power of Christ. So we have the famous encounter a week later when Jesus appears to the Apostles, this time including Thomas. Jesus was not angry with him, only disappointed that he could not simply trust the one who suffered and died for his salvation – unlike so many other people would in time to come.
After the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles went out to tell the world about Christ. Thomas went to India, where he founded a Christian community on the southwest coat that survives to this day. He must have assured people who listened to him something close to what we read in today’s readings: “You are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the capstone” (Ephesians 2:19-20). St. Thomas is believed to have been martyred during his missionary efforts.