I’ve come to a new appreciation of Thomas the Apostle over recent years. I used to write him off a bit as the doubter of the crowd. Life and more thoughtful reflection have suggested a variety of other perspectives to me:
- Thomas was courageous. He was willing to die with Jesus and the others. Why else would he return to the upper room? And he had to know that showing up there again to see Jesus could threaten his own life.
- Thomas was humble. Although the gospels were not written immediately after the events they describe, Thomas apparently did not try to shut down the stories of his questioning spirit. He was willing to have that story shared. Perhaps he knew that others needed to know it is holy and good to hold together the tension of belief and deep questions.
- Thomas was willing to touch pain and loss and grief. He was willing to put his hands right into the wounds of Jesus. Perhaps he is a precursor to Francis of Assisi and Theresa of Lisieux and Damian of Molokai who also touched wounds out of great love.
- Thomas listened to Jesus. He didn’t shrink away or protest. Out of his listening and personal encounter he proclaims the most profound truth of all, our fundamental creed, “My Lord and my God!”
Perhaps seeing Thomas from a different angle helps us to revision ourselves as well. Try a new perspective on some of your life experiences. Where do you now see courage in perseverance where once you saw only weakness because you were afraid? Can you see that returning to work, family, life or health in the midst of difficulty was actually grace? When did you stand with a loved one who was in pain, ill or dying? Can you see that you showed great love by your very presence? Sure it almost broke your heart, but here you still are – loving and showing up again for the next person who needs you. See yourself as the beloved of God who invites you close and then sends you back out as witness to the resurrection.
Thomas the Apostle, inspire us!