Friday, July 3, 2009

Feast of St Thomas the Apostle

St Thomas doubted when he heard that the Lord had been there while he was away. He had earlier said, "Let us go and die with the Lord" (Jn. 11-16). This echoed Peter's proclamation of never abandoning Jesus and his subsequent use of a sword to cut off the ear of a servant of the high priest who had come with Judas and the mob to take Jesus away. Now Thomas is in disillusionment and despair over Jesus being crucified. His resolve and faith have waned. He states his doubt as boldly as he stated his confidence in going to die with the Lord earlier. "I will not believe until I see the nail prints in his hands and feet and put my hand in his side" (Jn. 19:25).

Jesus came again the following week and this time Thomas' own words are used against him by the Lord Jesus. "Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (Jn. 19:27-29).

Thomas' faith is born anew from seeing the Risen Lord with his wounds now glorified. Thomas sees the womb of the Sacred Heart which has loved the Father in obedience and suffered, died and rose again for our salvation. The side of Christ is opened to him and his heart in turn is opened. Do not suppose this was a gentle thing. I think it was more as the prophet had said, "Rend your hearts not your garments" (Joel 2:13). The words of faith, "My Lord and My God," boiled and burst forth to the surface. A faith that was dead in him rose again with the same violence as the earth quake at the time of Jesus' death. Just as the chief priest rent his garments when Jesus said, "You shall see the Son of Man coming on the clouds with the hosts of the armies of heaven in glory;" so now Thomas rends his heart with the confession of faith "My Lord and My God."

Sometimes in life we cannot come to faith until the Lord has removed every last obstacle and excuse our doubt can hold onto. In the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, Abraham warned that not even if one should come back from the dead would the rich man's brothers believe. Some have received extraordinary graces like St Thomas the Apostle and still do not believe.
Today is the First Friday of the month and therefore also dedicated to the Sacred Heart. Go to Mass and confess that Jesus is Lord and God with Thomas. Rend your hearts that your faith may be born anew. The pains of your labor of faith will soon be forgotten with the Joy of beholding your God anew (Jn. 16:21).