Feast of St. Thomas

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For the Feast of St. Thomas we recommend the painting, “The Incredulity of St. Thomas” by Carvaggio.

If you travel to the Malabar Coast of India, you will find people who call themselves “Christians of St. Thomas.” They trace their ancient church to the apostle himself, who according to tradition traveled from Jerusalem to India spreading the gospel.

Thomas seems to have been a worrier.

We know less of Thomas’ biography – including how he got to India ‑ than we do of other apostles. We know, for instance, that Peter was a fisherman and Matthew a tax collector. We know that Zebedee’s sons, James and John, the “sons of thunder,” were brothers. We don’t have such details about Thomas. But we know a great deal about his heart.

Thomas seems to have been a worrier. When Jesus tells his disciples (John 11:16) that he is going to Judea to visit his friend, Lazarus, Thomas says, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

When Jesus is teaching at the Last Supper (John 14:5), telling his disciples that he is going to his Father’s house, Thomas (and he could be speaking for many of us) says,  “Lord, we do not know where you are going.  How can we know the way?”

Jesus does not rebuke Thomas, telling him simply,  “I am the way.”

For some reason lost to history, Thomas was not with the other disciples hiding on Easter night when Jesus appeared among them. When they told Thomas that they has seen the risen Christ, he replied, “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.” (John 20: 25b)

A week later, when Thomas was with the rest of the disciples, Jesus again appears among them. Again, he does not rebuke Thomas. Rather, the risen Lord invites Thomas to “reach out your hand and put it in my side.” Jesus goes on to say, “Do not doubt, but believe.”

Thomas does believe. He answers, “My Lord and my God.” (John 20: 26-29)

In a skeptical age, an age in which some refuse to believe what they cannot touch or taste or test, Thomas is a fitting patron. When you find yourself anxious and doubtful, ask Thomas to pray for you.