Consider Thomas, a man of great faith and dedication to the Lord!
In today’s Gospel, we famously meet St Thomas, the apostle who doubted. Thomas only stands out three times in the whole Bible, and we’ve just heard that he was not in the room when the other apostles first met the Risen Jesus. So not unreasonably, Thomas says:
Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.
Yet I have declared Thomas a man of great faith! Why do I dare to say this? The first time we see something of his character, it’s a few weeks earlier. Jesus is lying low on the far side of the River Jordan, because he knows the Pharisees are plotting to have him executed. Then news comes that his close friend, Lazarus, is seriously ill and close to death. The apostles become divided. Some say, “Lord, he’s your friend, you must go to him.” Others say, “No, Lord, it’s too dangerous – you can’t go.” Thomas says: “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
Thomas alone has the courage to stand up for loyalty and friendship, even to the point of risking death. So you can understand his doubt, his confusion, his despair, when he learns that Jesus appeared to the other apostles at a time when he alone, Thomas, wasn’t there! “Is this the the thanks I get for my loyalty? Our Master, who now seems to have the power to walk through locked doors and appear wherever and whenever he chooses, chooses to meet with all of them and not with me? Is THIS the thanks I get?”
Thomas is a man who wants to know things clearly. At the Last Supper, Jesus speaks about his coming death, and uses words which I’m sure we’ve all heard at many funerals: There are many rooms in His Father’s House, and he’s going to prepare a place for us. Jesus say to the apostles: “You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas replies: “How can we know the way?”
Jesus IS the way. Thomas is looking for a plan. What Jesus is offering is a person. He turns to Thomas and says “I am the way.”
Jesus is the way, and Jesus makes a way for us. At communion time, we’re going to hear a modern worship song called Waymaker. Our security is when we follow Jesus. But sometimes the Lord leads us through darkness. The song’s lyrics declare:
Even when I don’t see it, You’re workin’
Even when I don’t feel it, You’re workin’
Thomas wasn’t feeling it. Thomas wasn’t seeing it. His anguish was what any one of us might cry out in a dark time – “Lord, unless I can touch you, I can’t believe you’re really there.”
Thomas got his wish.
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’John 20:26-27
I wonder how Thomas felt in that moment. He was carrying a mixture of fear and love, doubt and hope. He had doubted whether Jesus remembered and cared for him personally. He had doubted the testimony of his friends, that Christ was risen. But now, undeniably, Jesus had not only remembered him, but had noticed his doubt and his pain. Thomas’ reward for his loyalty was to be written into history as the one man to stand for all of us who know that same painful mixture of doubt and hope. All of us will have moments of crying out, “Lord, are you there?” in the dark times of our lives. It is not the Lord’s will to answer immediately. But neither is it the Lord’s will to fail to answer at all. The Lord shows himself to Thomas on the ‘eighth day’, the time of perfection, a week after hope is given. “I am the way” says Jesus. “I am the one who will show himself to you after a time of testing. Doubt no longer but believe.”
On this Sunday we also remember that Jesus appeared to St Faustina Kowalska in the 20th century, to show his Divine Mercy. “Paint an image of my with two rays streaming from my breast: the water of baptism and the blood of communion. On the Sunday after Easter, honour this image, saying, ‘Jesus, I trust in you.’”
You won’t find promises of a trouble-free life in the Bible. You will find promises that God will walk with us through the darkness. When we say, “Jesus, I trust in you,” what we mean is: “Jesus, I will follow your commands even when times are hard; I know you walk with me through the darkness.” Thomas and the other apostles knew the darkness of facing the Death of Jesus, yet they were sent as messengers of hope to the whole world!
This is the victory over the world – our faith! Do you want to win a victory over the world? Put your trust in Jesus. Keep praying to him. Keep confessing your sins and receiving Holy Communion, or at least making an Act of Spiritual Communion. Look for the signs that he loves you. They won’t always be the signs that you wish for, but they are there.
Thomas finally recognised who Jesus was. “My Lord and My God!” When we recognise this, we can dare to declare:
You are here, working in this place
I worship You.
You are here, turning lives around
I worship You.
You are here, healing every heart
I worship You.
Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, I trust in you!