Today's Lectionary Text
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 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.”
Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
This passage which includes the skepticism of the apostle Thomas has always resonated with me. I respect healthy skepticism. My undergraduate degree was in the sciences. There I learned that you tested each hypothesis by collecting observable data. You didn’t simply rely on an assumption or gut feeling or even on anecdotal evidence. In a world where falsehoods are peddled as truth through platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, healthy skepticism is a necessity.
That’s why I like Thomas. When he heard some pretty outlandish claims by even his close associates, he wanted to verify the accuracy for himself. After all, who would believe someone spontaneously came back from the dead when some kind of mass hysteria seemed more likely? He wanted evidence of the truth.
When Jesus next appeared, far from chiding Thomas for his unbelief, Jesus addressed his reasonable doubt. “Touch where the nails pierced my hands. Put your hand where the spear entered my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
And here’s the healthy part of Thomas’ skepticism, when he saw this evidence he did believe. In fact, he gave one of the most powerful confessions found in the Gospels of who Christ is, “My Lord and my God!” His willingness to believe the evidence led him to a deeper faith in Jesus.
We all doubt at times. We doubt those in authority. We doubt friends and family. We doubt ourselves. We even doubt God. But if we are healthy doubters like Thomas, God is okay with that. In our times of doubt, God comes to us, speaks to us, and shows us evidence of God’s love for us and faithfulness to us. Perhaps God does this by reminding us of God’s past acts of love and faithfulness, by showing us new opportunities or even by changing our circumstances. When we see this evidence, our healthy response is a deeper faith, just like Thomas.
Thanks Thomas, you give hope to doubters like me.
Prayer for Reflection
God who reveals yourself to us, foster in us a healthy skepticism and an inquisitive nature which seeks after the truth. When we doubt, help us to remain open to your truth. Enter the room with us, speak to us, show us the truth, and soften our hearts to believe ever more deeply in you, that our faith may be strengthened, our witness enlivened, and our service empowered; through Jesus the Way, the Truth and the Life. Amen.
This Week's Lectionary
This Week's Liturgical Color