“Every mental act is composed of doubt and belief, but it is belief that is the positive, it is belief that sustains thought and holds the world together.” ― Søren Kierkegaard (1813 –1855 Danish philosopher, theologian, and poet)
Gospel Text: (JN 20:19-31)
On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”
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 nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
In today’s gospel the story of Thomas is a powerful example of paradox. Thomas is a man with deep faith in Jesus, yet he struggles to believe that Jesus has risen. Thomas embodies the paradox of faith and doubt. We often say seeing is believing but perhaps seeing is simply seeing. Jesus says to Thomas, “Have you come to believe in me because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
When you think about it, Thomas was true to himself and his doubt. He was living with the tension of paradox. While Thomas was confident of his love for Jesus and still reeling from his grief about the death of Jesus, he was unsure of his capacity to believe that Jesus had risen. That does not mean he did not want to believe, he was simply struggling to do so. As the only member of the group who had not seen Jesus appear in the locked Upper Room, Thomas asked the tough questions.
How many times do I ask God for a sign? What kind of proof of God’s love am I unknowingly looking for in my life?
So here’s the lesson: even though our faith goes up and down, Jesus remains with us. He always extends his hand to us. He is always ready to draw us back to himself.