An Assured Hope – Br. Lain Wilson

Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle

Habakkuk 2:1-4
Hebrews 10:35—11:1
John 20:24-29

What would it mean for you to have proof?

This question is in the background of P. D. James’s novel Death in Holy Orders. A theological college holds a papyrus that purports to disprove the Resurrection. Surely, if this document proves to be authentic, the inspector asks one of the priests on staff, if it is hard proof about something that had until then only been a belief, this would surely be relevant to your faith. “My son,” the priest responds, “for one who every hour of his life has the assurance of the living presence of Christ, why should I worry about what happened to earthly bones?”[1]

Earthly bones very much worry the apostle Thomas, whom we celebrate today. Bones and flesh, blood and wounds—the physicality of Jesus’s body, the fleshly reality of his friend and teacher. “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe” (Jn 20:25) Jesus lets Thomas see and feel his body, giving him the proof he seeks. But not without a rebuke: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (Jn 20:29). Read More

Experiencing the Wounds of Christ – Br. Geoffrey Tristram

Br. Geoffrey Tristram

St. Thomas, the Apostle

John 20:24-29

“Unless I see I will not believe.” These are words of the Apostle Thomas whom we celebrate today. These words have sadly clung to him in a negative way so that he is often called “Doubting Thomas.”

But calling him “Doubting Thomas” seems not only ­­­­­­­­­­­unfair, but inaccurate. Thomas was no wavering agnostic, sitting on the fence: “Perhaps I believe, I don’t know.” That’s not Thomas at all. He is quite open and downright: “I simply don’t believe it.” “I don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead, and that’s that.”

And I think we have to say that many people do find it very difficult to believe. It’s a great mystery why others who hear the Gospel are touched almost immediately and come to faith. They are blessed, says Jesus, who do not need such evidence as the exploring of wounds with a finger. “Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed.” 

Yet Jesus had mercy on Thomas, was glad of his honesty: “Unless I see I will not believe.” See what? Does it mean I want proof? Surely not, because faith does not deal with proof. God longs for us to turn to him in penitence and faith. He is not going to prove anything to make us believe.

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Meeting in the Wounds of Christ – Br. Lucas Hall

John 20:24-29
Saint Thomas the Apostle

Today, we celebrate the feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle, most famously known as “Doubting Thomas,” from the Gospel story we just heard. Thomas misses the initial appearance of the Resurrected Christ, and insists that he will not believe unless he can stick his fingers inside the wounds of Christ himself. Jesus later arrives, and after offering his disciples a greeting of “Peace be with you,” he does again what he has already done to an infinite degree: Jesus offers his body, for the dispelling of the shadows of doubt and the triumph of life through the light of faith. He orders Thomas to stick his fingers in the wounds of his body. Thomas immediately realizes his error, and exclaims, “My Lord and my God!”1 Fear, repentance, shock, jubilation, hope, excitement, awe, love…all of these and more, bound up in Thomas’s beautiful cry, and the experience takes Thomas from doubt to a belief deep enough to explicitly affirm that Christ is God Incarnate. Read More

In the Midst of Death We Are in Life – Br. Curtis Almquist

Br. Curtis AlmquistJohn 20:24-29

I’ve been remembering lots of Christmas tunes that come out of my childhood, popular songs you can still hear performed on YouTube and on television specials this time of year: the pop star Andy Williams’ singing “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year…” And “It’s a Holly Jolly Christmas,” and “The Little Drummer Boy.”  On it goes, so many of the lyrics full of joy and celebration, of wonder and innocence.  And all the color and tinsel that fill the shops, and hang on trees, and pop up on Amazon.com are intent on evoking wonderful expectations this time of year.

So it might seem ill-timed for us to remember the martyrdom of Thomas, the Apostle, in such close proximity to the joyful celebration of Christmas.  But it’s no accident.  It’s all about light and the absence of light.  By the fourth century, the western church was celebrating Christmas at the time of the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, when we long for light. By the ninth century, the western church had also fixed the date of St. Thomas’ martyrdom around the winter solstice: the date of celebration for Christmas because Christ Jesus is born as “the light of the world,” who comes to us in the darkest night;  and Thomas, who was dubbed “the doubter” among the disciples, remembered on the darkest night, (1) symbolizing doubt and despair, because Thomas experiences a revelation from Jesus.  The scriptures call Jesus “the bright morning star,” who “dawns upon us from on high.” (2) These tandem dates for the death of St. Thomas and the birth of Christ Jesus are all about our need for light, for hope, and for help when we are in outer or inner darkness. Read More

St. Thomas the Apostle – Br. David Vryhof

John 20:24-29

Have you ever had the experience of taking a photograph of someone, and finding the result rather disappointing?  Not necessarily because the person you photo­graph is out of focus; not because the color is funny; not even because the composition is off-balanced… but because the person captured in the moment of photograph is not reflective of the whole personality.

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