Reason’s final step is to realize that there are an infinite number of things which lie beyond it. It is simply feeble if it does not get as far as realizing that. — Blaise Pascal
(Gospel Text: Lk 24:35-48)
The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way, and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of bread. While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them. He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”
Today, the physician apostle Luke explains above that in his glorified body Jesus still bore the wounds of the crucifixion. The beloved disciple John's account of this post resurrection appearance includes Thomas (Jn 20:19-31) and elaborates on his doubts. Both St. Luke and St. John try to teach us a little something about fear and doubts, which are very real and can affect us all.
St John wrote: "Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."
Thomas is unfortunately remembered for his moment of doubt and for all time is referred to as a “Doubting Thomas”. Yet Catholic tradition tells us that he died a martyr for his faith. He became a messenger of Mercy to the east coast of India, preaching relentlessly. He is killed near Mylapore about 72 AD, near present-day Madras. Tradition tells us that he was thrown into a pit, then pierced through with a spear. He who had so fervently proclaimed his unbelief carried the Christian message of love and forgiveness to the ends of the earth in his generation.
I personally love Thomas. I always have. He’s so honest and real. A lot of us can relate to him. We want to see for ourselves too. We want proof we can see and touch. Above all, we don’t want to be deceived. If that happens, we feel foolish.
Some things in life you get proof for. But not everything, and often not the most important things. If you start a marriage or a new career, you don’t get to see ahead of time how it will work out. You have to believe it will, and as you live in the new reality, over time the proof begins to appear. The believing comes first. Jesus says our life with God is like this. Belief comes first, and as we believe, slowly the proof begins to appear and bloom as our life is lived.
The man referred to as “The Doubter”, Thomas, would speak to doubters today, to those who have seen their hopes and dreams destroyed. Doubting Thomas would tell his story of how Jesus' life had intercepted his own. He would tell us of his fears and his doubts. And then, with a radiant, joyful face, St. Thomas, Apostle to India, would recount his joy at seeing and knowing the risen Jesus himself. "My Lord and my God!" he would say. "My Lord and my God!"
My message today: embrace the promise. Believe where you have not seen. And know this: the God who gave life to Jesus will also give life to you. God asks for your belief. God asks for your trust. That’s where it starts. The proof will appear in your life – Believe it!
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