Reflection for the Festival of Thomas the Apostle

John 20.24-29

Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘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.’

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to 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 answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’


Today the Church’s calendar invites us to remember Thomas the Apostle. History has led us to remember Thomas principally for his unwillingness to be deceived by stories of Jesus’ resurrection, but there is more to Thomas than that.

There are three key moments in the gospel narrative when we hear of Thomas. Firstly, he is fearless in his encouraging the disciples to set self-interest aside and to accompany Jesus into dangerous territory. Secondly, it is Thomas who asks Jesus the question that elicits the answer: I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. And, thirdly, it is Thomas who seeks evidence of Jesus’ resurrection.

In the gospels we read of Jesus transforming his disciples into apostles, that is he encourages them to turn their willingness to follow into the more practical role of messenger. We are called to be both disciples and apostles as well. We, like those first disciples, are called to tread hostile paths in the name of Christ. When we think only of Thomas’ so-called ‘doubt’ we conveniently set aside his zeal to take the Good News into the dark places of the world. Let us pray that we might hear again the message of Thomas’ evangelistic zeal and become active bearers of the Word and Light of Christ.

Like us, Thomas sought to understand fully the message he was proclaiming. As he lived through the days that would lead to Jesus’ crucifixion he became confused and uncertain. Thomas was the one who was willing to speak up and ask Jesus what he meant. Thomas was the one who was told by Jesus: I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. By asking the question that others did not ask, Thomas gained for us the truth of Jesus Christ. Let us pray that we may follow the Way that is Jesus, as we hold on to the truth that is Jesus, and as we gain the Life that is Jesus.

Then comes the moment of ‘doubt’! Thomas had heard Jesus warn of false prophets, and Thomas remembered that teaching. Thomas would not have known that the other disciples had already asked for similar reassurance when they first encountered the risen Jesus. So, Thomas expressed his very human scepticism. But, it did not stop there. Thomas was ready to be convinced, and he was convinced. We all have moments of doubt in our lives. Let us pray that we might be ready for Jesus to prove our doubt as being shallow and worthless. Let us pray that our doubt might always be turned back into true faith.

And, finally, let us join Thomas in something else. Let us pray that we might always declare Jesus to be: My Lord and my God!