Today is the Feast Day of St. Thomas the Apostle. Happy Feast Day! St. Thomas is commonly known as ‘Doubting Thomas’ because he doubted Jesus’ resurrection when first told of it but later, upon seeing Jesus’ crucifixion wounds, he confessed his belief: “My Lord and my God.” It’s widely held that St. Thomas subsequently took the Gospel of Jesus Christ to India. To help us prayerfully celebrate today’s feast, we asked Fr. Bill Ashbaugh, Pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle in Ann Arbor, to explain the significance of St. Thomas to our relationship with Jesus Christ today. He wrote:
“Today we are remembering St. Thomas the Apostle. We often think of him as ‘Doubting Thomas’ and from the few accounts we have of him in the Gospel of John, we see a man who verbalized the bleak picture before him. He comes across as a realist or a pessimist in outlook. When Jesus said they were going back to Jerusalem to be with Lazarus, the Apostles protested, for they had just tried to stone Jesus there. Thomas blurted out, “Let us also go to die with him.” Not a statement of deep faith and trust in the Lord, was it? Yet, on the other hand, it revealed a sober assessment of the situation they were all in as followers of Jesus, and a true loyalty, and even love, for Jesus. Even as bad as it was, Thomas would not run away.”
“During the Last Supper discourse, Jesus told his Apostles not to let their hearts be troubled. ‘Have faith in God, and faith in me!’ Jesus was going to prepare a place for them, and where He was going, they knew the way. Thomas again chimed in what many of them might have been thinking, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, how can we know the way?” You can feel his distress!
“And, finally, in John 20, we have the most famous of all the accounts of Thomas’ objection to the Apostle’s claim that they had seen the Lord and that the Lord was indeed alive and risen! Thomas said, ‘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’ realism (or pessimism) got the better of him. Because of this, we call him ‘Doubting Thomas’.”
“Yet, if we are honest, we would also recognize ourselves in Thomas. Jesus’ promises of resurrection and eternal life can seem too good to be true … so beyond our current world experience that can be very dark. Yet Christ’s promises are true. All of them! We see the Risen Lord ministering to Thomas to heal his broken or even absent faith. It must be noted that in spite of Thomas’ doubt, he was there! He remained with the Twelve in the upper room. He may not have had faith, but perhaps there still was a thread of hope in him.”
“Jesus chose Thomas to help us all. His doubt did not turn Christ away, but rather drew Christ to minister to him especially. Christ remained faithful to Thomas and He will remain faithful to us in our times of doubt. We all need that now during this pandemic and the upheavals we are seeing everywhere.”
Jesus invited Thomas to touch his wounds and behold him, fulfilling Thomas’ own words! Let’s join St Thomas in his response to Jesus: ‘My Lord and my God’. Jesus came to Thomas, and He will come to us in our times of doubt. Believe it! ‘Blessed are those who believe and have not seen’.”
Thank you Fr. Ashbaugh. Have a very happy and holy feast day today! St. Thomas the Apostle, pray for us.