St. Thomas the Apostle

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of St. Thomas, who we generally refer to as “Doubting Thomas.”

The label comes from an incident in John’s Gospel following Jesus’ resurrection. As that Gospel passage records, Thomas is not present with the other disciples when the resurrected Jesus visits them. When he returns and they tell him, “We have seen the Lord,” he doubts their account and tells them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my fingers into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

The next time Jesus appears to the disciples, Thomas is present. Seeing him, Jesus invites Thomas to put his finger into the nailmarks and his hand into Jesus’ side. Thomas’ disbelief quickly gives way to belief: Thomas does not need to touch the wounds; the personal encounter with Christ is enough. Filled with awe, he utters what one commentator has called “the greatest confession of faith recorded anywhere in the Bible” – “My Lord and My God!”

To call Thomas a doubter because he did not believe the account of his friends is unwarranted. None of us is asked to believe in the reality of the risen Christ based solely on the testimony of others. Rather, we are invited to a personal encounter with Christ. Like Thomas, we don’t need to put our fingers into the nailmarks or our hands in Jesus’ side. But we are invited to taste Him in the Eucharist, to see Him in the faces of all those we encounter and to allow the Spirit to reveal Him to our hearts. So we can all, like Thomas, proclaim with awe and wonder, “My Lord and My God.”