Saint Thomas, Apostle – Readings

Commentary on Ephesians 2:19-22; Psalm 116; John 20:24-29

Today’s Gospel reading recalls the scene after Jesus’ resurrection when Jesus appeared to his disciples in the upper room. They first saw him on Easter Sunday, the day of the resurrection, but for some reason, Thomas was not with them. When, later on, they told Thomas they had seen the Lord, he absolutely refused to believe them. He said that unless he saw with his own eyes the mark of the nails in Jesus’ hands and was able to put his hands into the wound in Jesus’ side, he would not believe.

Then, exactly a week later, when they were all gathered together again and Thomas was with them, Jesus suddenly appeared, although the doors were again locked. After giving them a greeting of peace, he immediately addressed Thomas.

Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.

Thomas is clearly overwhelmed. He can only burst out,

My Lord and my God!

It is clearly a statement of deep faith. He is the only person in the Gospel to address Jesus directly as ‘God’. And it seems to have been made without his touching the body of his Risen Lord.

Jesus then says:

Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.

Two comments can be made. First, Thomas in fact went beyond what he was seeing. He saw the Risen Jesus but he addressed him as God. That was something which went beyond just seeing – it was a statement of faith.

Second, the rest of the statement is addressed to us. None of us has ever seen the Risen Jesus, but we firmly believe that he did rise from the dead and is in glory with the Father. It is on the basis of that act of faith that our Christian life is founded.

The First Reading from the Letter to the Ephesians reminds us that our membership in the Christian community is built on the foundation of the Apostles and prophets with Jesus himself as the headstone. Thomas is part of that foundation. And it is through Jesus that the whole structure of the Christian community is held together and:

…grows into a holy temple in the Lord.

In the Risen Jesus, we:

…are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

We, as Paul says elsewhere, are the Temple of the Lord, the Body of Christ, his visible presence on earth. This is both a huge privilege and a huge responsibility for each one of us. We remember that Jesus once said:

…whoever sees me sees him who sent me. (John 12:45)

But we also believe that whenever someone looks at us, they should also see Jesus. This is the faith that Jesus spoke of to Thomas. Are we really aware of this?

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