2nd SUNDAY OF EASTER: THE CRISIS OF FAITHJn 20: 19-31
PEACE IS GOD'S GIFT. As the gospel suggests, peace is being considered as the first gift of the resurrection. It appears that Jesus must have given it to his disciples in order to console them. The disciples are to be consoled because they must have felt sorry for the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Likewise, there must be a feeling of guilt on their part, especially those who denied and virtually abandoned Jesus. Moreover, they lived in anxiety, and in fear of the Jews. Thus, peace could be seen as the necessary gift of the risen Christ to the disciples.
Let us now turn to Thomas who was absent when the risen Christ showed up to his disciples. Like the other disciples, he doubted that Jesus, who died, had risen. Like the faith of Mary Magdalene and Simon Peter, the faith of Thomas on the resurrection of Christ has not grown to full maturity yet. His words, “Unless I see the marks of the nails in his hands…., I will not believe,” is an indicator of an undeveloped faith. But should Thomas be despised? His faith did not end up with that remark. When he saw the risen Christ, he exclaimed, “My Lord, and my God!” The faith of Thomas began with a doubt and ended with a beautiful confession on the lordship and divinity of Christ.
Let us reflect further on the faith of Thomas.
Firstly, Thomas demonstrates to us that faith is a process, from doubt to certainty. Or, in our case, from a simple and a higher form of faith. When we first received the faith during baptism, this faith had not been that perfect or complete. It was a simple faith that needs to be developed. The development of faith comes with our age. While we grow in age, our faith reaches to greater adequacy. So, it is important that from time to time, we reflect upon the growth of our faith.
I once met a person who underwent a process of “soul-searching” in terms of faith. He began to doubt the veracity of the Christian God. He then became a skeptic. During these moments of doubt, he tried to explore the various non-Christian faiths. He bought and read significant books of other religions. Unfortunately, these have never convinced him either. He ended up an “atheist.”
The beauty of Thomas’ faith lies on the fact that it never ended in skepticism. In the end, there came a great confession which we could not find in other disciples of Jesus, save Peter who made his comparable confession at Caesarea Philippi. Thomas’ confession is a show of a conviction, of a certainty. Indeed, Christ is the Lord and God! We can only hope that the modern-day skeptics would follow the path that Thomas trod. We can only hope that they may find clarity towards the end of their journey or soul searching.
Secondly, the faith of Thomas is instructive. Although some preachers despise Thomas for being a doubter, the faith of Thomas can be informative for us. We can clearly associate ourselves with Thomas. Thomas has his own experience of a crisis of faith. Equally, at times, our journey of faith hasn’t been that easy. When we encounter problems and tragedies, we simply falter. When we experience the pain of broken marriage, failure in examinations, or loss of job, we then start to doubt the existence and the goodness of God. Some have even distanced themselves from God and the Church. This response has affected our relationship with God. But for Thomas, the situation was not that bad because he used that as an opportunity for greater growth and certainty. This is something we need to learn.
In our world today, more and more people have doubted on God and have abandoned their faith. In fact, some people have made their doubts in God into books and eventually, were translated into movies. It has become a lucrative business. It appears that they have succeeded because modern people have become doubters, skeptics, and atheists. These people need some evidences before they could believe in something. But this is the reality of faith. The things of faith, like the resurrection, cannot be proven by means of the senses. They are simply to be believed. Our bodily eyes may have not seen these, but our “eyes of faith” can see them. Indeed, “Blessed are those who have not seen, and believed!”
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