09 April 2010

WHAT IF THOMAS DID NOT DOUBT?

(This is a repost...still worth a second look.)
2nd Sunday of Easter
Jn 20:19-31


Almost everything we know about Jesus comes from the gospels. But the gospels do not tell us everything we want to know about Jesus. The Gospel of John tells us why: “There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written” (Jn 21:25). This testimony, however, does not stop us from asking questions at almost every page of the gospels. Nevertheless, as it is and will always be, many of our questions will never be answered. We need to wait to get to heaven and ask Jesus Himself to answer our questions first hand.

The gospels tell us not only about Jesus. We also come to know about the disciples of Jesus through them. Among His disciples was a group of men who were collectively called “The Twelve”, and one of The Twelve was Thomas.

The gospels do not tell us much about Thomas. Unfortunately, among the few we know about Thomas from the gospels, it is his doubting that most of us remember well.

When Jesus appeared to the apostles on the first Easter evening, Thomas was not with them. Where Thomas was, the gospels are silent. We can only guess. Perhaps, Thomas was so broken-hearted over the fact that Jesus died and, in confusion, he got himself isolated from the rest of the apostles. But the other ten were just as broken-hearted as he was. Perhaps, Thomas felt most guilty of them all because in Jn 11:16, Thomas even persuaded the others to die with Jesus, but, as it happened, when Jesus needed him most, Tomas himself ran away to secure his own life. Well, of course, Simon Peter also promised Jesus that he would not leave Him even if the rest do so, only to betrayed Him not once, not twice, but thrice. But at least, Simon Peter did not try persuading the others to die with Jesus. Tomas did! Thomas had no face to face not only Jesus but his fellow apostles as well. Thus, while he shared many thrilling moments with the other apostles, Thomas missed the biggest thrill of all: the first appearance of Jesus to His apostles on the evening of His resurrection.

When finally, Thomas was with the other ten, he was even so bullheaded towards them when they informed him that Jesus had risen and actually appeared to them. He even sounded so arrogant so as to dictate the conditions that must be satisfied first before he believes in the veracity of a resurrected Jesus: “Unless I see the holes that the nails made in His hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into His side, I refuse to believe.” Refuse? While we cannot be certain about the reason for Thomas’ stubborn disbelief, we may, however, explore some possibilities.

It cannot be said that Thomas thought that his fellow apostles were willfully circulating a lie. It is more possible to think that, with the loss of Jesus weighing so indescribably heavy upon them, Thomas thought that the other apostles had actually but, unintentionally of course, fooled themselves. Could it be that they were tricked by a phantom? Because they wanted to see Jesus so badly, could it be that they imagined that they had actually seen Him when in fact they had not? We know this kind of experience. Sometimes, wishing hard enough can create a phantom and make something that is not so seem to be so.

It is here that Thomas’ doubt proves to be very crucial for all ages. While we are comfortable with the belief in the resurrection of Jesus, undoubtedly, there are still skeptics in our midst. A couple of years ago, some archeologists reported that they found the remains of Jesus, together with the remains of Mary and Judas. Skepticism about the Lord’s resurrection showed its ugly and stubborn face again. But the fact that among the eleven, one doubted, ironically, strengthens even more the historical truth of the Lord’s resurrection.

There are skeptics who persistently suggest that the apostles underwent a collective hallucination. They theorize that the Risen Jesus was actually a product of the apostles’ wishful thinking. Thus, they continue to find even the minutest possible proof that Jesus did not actually physically resurrect. Rather, He resurrected only spiritually in the hearts of His followers. There is big problem with such a nagging, arrogant, and even foolish proposal. And the Gospel today shouts it right to everyone’s face: “Thomas! Thomas! Do not forget Tomas! Thomas doubted.” Suppose the other apostles were actually fooled by their wishful thinking, that they longed to see the Lord so much that they thought they heard His voice, saw His wounds, and ate a meal with Him. But what about Thomas?

The greater the shame, the greater the yearning to make up for the blunder committed. The greater the guilt, the greater the wish to reverse the wrong done. The greater the remorse for abandoning a friend to a violent death, the greater the longing to see the same friend restored to life. Proudly persuading his fellow apostles to die with Jesus but cowardly deserting Jesus like the rest, no one, save Thomas, could have wished Jesus to be really and physically alive again. But wishing did not make Thomas think it so. He knew it could not be so. But it was so: Jesus had truly risen from the dead and is alive forever more. The irony of Thomas’ doubt is that it should erase all doubts about the Lord’s actual and physical resurrection. Thomas is the final argument against the logic that the Easter story was a collective hallucination of the apostles.

When Thomas, kneeling before the Risen Jesus, finally said, “My Lord and My God,” each one of us – including the skeptics – were actually kneeling before Jesus and professing faith in His resurrection. There was absolutely no way to disprove the Easter story, for it is so empirical proven to true as Thomas’ doubt ironically proved.

Sadly, as there are skeptics about the Lord’s resurrection, there also are skeptics of the Lord’s merciful love. As today is the Feast of the Divine Mercy, we are invited to believe in the Lord’s resurrection as the greatest proof of His mercy. And believing that the Lord’s resurrection is the greatest and deepest evidence of His mercy, we renew our resolution and intensify our efforts to be a people of mercy, a merciful people, a people who show mercy and, in turn, are shown mercy. We cannot trust in God’s mercy if we doubt that He raised His only begotten Son from the dead to be the first-born among many brothers and sisters.

What if Thomas did not doubt the Lord’s resurrection? Then, the skeptics are right in dismissing the Easter story as nothing but a big hoax circulated by hallucinating apostles of a dead Jesus. But Thomas doubted and so we believe even more. And Thomas likewise believed and so we never doubt.

2 Comments:

At 1:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of people disprove the scripture and even the existence of Jesus, but all the research or studies they made prove them wrong and at the end of the day, they came believing that the scripture is true and so is Jesus...

All the things that happened to my life were products of God's mercy and love... A blessed Feast of Divine Mercy to all..

 
At 1:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of people disprove the scripture and even the existence of Jesus, but all the research or studies they made prove them wrong and at the end of the day, they came believing that the scripture is true and so is Jesus...

All the things that happened to my life were products of God's mercy and love... A blessed Feast of Divine Mercy to all..


Lavoisier-acct

 

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