By Fr. Tim Peters
Parochial Vicar, Mission Basilica, San Juan Capistrano
Thomas was missing and he doubted that Christ had been raised!
If one travels to the South-West coast of India they will find flourishing Christian communities which were originally founded by Thomas the Apostle. It’s amazing to think that the same Thomas, who doubted that Christ had been raised from the dead and even demanded visual proof of the resurrection, would bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth after having had a personal encountered the Risen Christ. It is also ironic that we most often remember Thomas for his moment of doubt and forget what he did afterwards. The story of doubting Thomas is a story of how God can change a life and use it for His glory.
A constant encounter with the Risen Christ
As you read this I ask you to consider if you have had a life-changing encounter with the Risen Christ! I’m not asking if you go to mass every Sunday or even every day or in what ministries you participate, but if you have truly encountered the Risen and Glorified Christ? On Sunday of Devine Mercy the Church invites us to focus on Thomas’ encounter with the Risen Christ. Thomas the doubter was transformed when he encountered the Risen Christ. Simply put, our faith requires each of us to have a life changing encounter with the cross and with the empty tomb! We must come to personally know the One who was crucified and is now risen from the dead. It is this encounter with the Risen Christ which changed everything in Thomas’ life and compelled him to become one of the greatest evangelists in the early Church taking the Gospel as far as India. What a transformation and what a change! It’s marvelous to think that such a transformation could come from one who first doubted that the crucified Christ had in fact risen from the dead.
Who is like Thomas the doubter? If we are honest, each of us has had moments of doubt. We have had moments of failing and times when our faith was not a constant “yes” to Jesus. Yet God wants to transform our lives just as He transformed the life of Thomas. Through our own constant encounter with the Risen Christ we ourselves will become part of the New Evangelization. This is because no one can encounter what Thomas did and not desire to share it with others. In the same way our own encounter with the Risen Christ will cause us to develop a desire to share our faith with others.
The Mercy of God
Fittingly the proclamation of this Gospel coincides with the Sunday of Divine Mercy when as a Church we recommit ourselves to the proclamation of God’s enduring mercy. Jesus’ reaction to Thomas helps us to understand the depths of this mercy. Some may think that Thomas deserved a scolding of biblical proportions! “Thomas, how could you say such a thing?” Yet, our Lord’s only concern is to transform doubt into true faith. He desired only that Thomas believe that the original report about his resurrection was in fact true. Parents and teachers of the faith should take special note of the manner in which Jesus helps His disciples to comprehend the great mystery of His own death and resurrection. Christ is not upset with Thomas, Peter or any of the other apostles. Faith is His concern and this must also be our concern as we patiently teach others about the faith! Then we can explain to them that we who have not seen are even more blessed for the faith that we have in Jesus.