Low Sunday 2019
Thomas is known as “doubting Thomas”. His name has passed down into our language: we say of someone who won’t believe that they are a “doubting Thomas”. But I think Thomas is a most valuable person. In many ways he represents many of us. Thomas could be called a sceptic. He refuses to believe what the others tell him: that they have seen the risen Christ.
Thomas would obviously like to believe this but he can’t. No doubt he thinks they are mistaken. He does not care how many of them say they’ve seen him. Hehasn’t and that’s all that matters to him.
Now I’m sure Thomas isn’t always like this. That normally he will believe people who tell him things. That he’d believe someone if they told him that Jesus body had been stolen; or that the Jews had destroyed the body. But what he cannot believe, what he adamantly refuses to believe is that: this man who had died was no longer dead! As far as Thomas is concerned they are all suffering from mass hallucination, or something. We can have the same situation today when some people say they have seen an extraordinary vision, of the Blessed Virgin Mary of something, but most people don’t believe them. .
I think we owe a great deal to Thomas. What he is showing us is just how hard it is to believe in the Resurrection of Christ. It’s all right for us 2ooo years later. We’ve the benefit of all that history, and all those people who’ve testified to Christ’s resurrection; and some of them have even died as martyrs rather than deny this truth. But isn’t there a danger that we all just take it for granted. How many of us have thought it through? How many of us have wondered what it must have been like to have been there? How many of us can really understand why Thomas refused to believe the others?
Some might argue that we don’t have to imagine all this. Why should we? We’ve the evidence and we know it’s true and we know that not only did Christ rise from the dead but he also ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father. There’s no need to agonise about whether he rose from the dead or not? Is there?
I suggest that you don’t have to but it will help. Putting ourselves into Thomas’ shoes helps us and helps our faith. It helps us to appreciate the enormous mystery that we are asked to believe in. And I do think that there is a real danger that we do take this for granted. We may even be critical of Thomas for his attitude, for his lack of faith that had we been there we would have believed. But before we condemn Thomas we need to recall that after Thomas saw Christ for himself he did believe. Not only did he believe but it changed his life. For the rest of his life he bore witness to the resurrection of Christ. He even died a martyr because of this faith.
It is good to ask ourselves: “has the fact that Christ has risen from the dead changed our lives?” Has it changed our lives in the way that it changed Thomas’? Or is it something that we believe, like a lot of other things, but that’s as far as it goes?
We need to contemplate the mystery of Christ’s resurrection. We need to feel the awe that the others felt; we need, too, to sense the joy when they saw Christ; and experience the peace at his presence. And if we do these things; if we pray in this way, then the resurrection will make a difference in our lives.
Thomas doubted but came to believe. We believe but maybe we’ve got doubts; or maybe we’ve simply never thought about it; we just take it all for granted. If the people of our secular and cynical generation are to believe then they’re going to need some convincing. The more convinced we are, the easier it will be for others to believe through us. Those who first saw the risen Christ and testified to that fact are now dead; now it’s our turn to tell the Good News.