April 11, 2021
Can we have doubts about our faith and still count ourselves among the faithful? This week’s Gospel lesson addresses this issue directly through the post-Resurrection actions of the Apostle Thomas.
Now, every year on this week after Easter day, our Gospel lesson features the frightened apostles huddled together in the Upper Room on that very day of the Resurrection. This is because they were frightened for their own lives. After all their leader was gone, and they feared for what would become of them now.
But then their fortunes were suddenly reversed. The resurrected Jesus appeared to them, assuring them of his victory over death and the truth of all that he had tried to tell them in the weeks and months leading up to his Passion. This renewed their strength in heart and mind and spirit. Their Savior was alive!
But, as it turned out, Jesus hadn’t appeared to all of them on that day. Thomas wasn’t there; and when he returned to the Upper Room and heard what had happened, he questioned whether or not all of this had actually taken place. He had doubts. The testimony of his fellow disciples who had witnessed Jesus’ appearance wasn’t enough for him. He needed to come to grips with Jesus’ resurrection in his own way and in his own time.
However, though he doubted, he didn’t refute. He didn’t declare that the other disciples were wrong, or liars, or crazy, he just wasn’t convinced that what they claimed to have seen, they actually saw. This is a fine line to draw, but an important one. One that in fact preserved this small band of followers in the days after Jesus’ crucifixion; because Thomas was not rejected by his community for having doubts, nor did he reject them even though he felt that they might be mistaken. The community held differences of opinion were tolerated.
The truth, eventually came out when Jesus appeared a second time before all of the disciples, including Thomas, who now believed with his whole heart. But the important thing to remember here is that there was no “I told you so,” he wasn’t belittled by his fellow apostles because of his doubts. Instead, there was occasion for great joy now that the truth of the resurrection was revealed to all of them.
This is a lesson for all of us, both inside the church and out, to accept our differences and understand that each of us will come to God’s truth in our own way in our own time. We don’t all have to feel the same way, or believe the same things, in order to understand that we are one church, one people, united. And doubt is often an avenue toward belief as it was for Thomas!