“The most devastating illness of human Soul: doubting”
by Fr. George Calciu
The Apostle Thomas represents those who are dominated by rationality and who need evidence. They are not unbelievers, but they need evidence to strengthen their faith. The moment they are given proof, their faith deepens, up to the ultimate sacrifice, as it was with the Holy Apostle Thomas.
Why Thomas was not with the disciples? All disciples were gathered together in a house for fear of the Jews, as the Evangelist John relates in today’s Gospel. But Thomas was not with them. It is possible that Thomas was the most courageous of them and went outside to gain information and to hear what else was said about Jesus, or perhaps he went out to bring food because the other apostles didn’t have the courage to do so.
Thus, when Jesus came, he was not with them.
When they told him: “We saw the Lord!” Thomas answered “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in His side, I will not believe.” (John 20.25).
The day when Jesus appeared to His disciples and Thomas was not with them, the disciples doubted Him. Even when our Savior said to them “Peace be with you!“, they did not believe it was He until Jesus “Showed them His hands and His side“ (cf. John 20, 20) saying: “See my hands and my feet that it is truly Me, handle Me and see, that the spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have “ (Luke 24, 39). So who is the unfaithful: Thomas, who has not seen the Lord and he doubted, or the disciples who saw Him and doubted?
Our Savior knew of Thomas’ doubt and came especially for him. Jesus came into this world not only for believers and sinners, but also for those who live in doubt.
To doubt is a demonic act. The demons constantly seek to inflict our soul with doubt by suggesting to us: “Well, I believe in God, I believe that Jesus Christ came into the world, died and was crucified for our salvation, but was He the Son of God? “ Or perhaps: “I believe in such and such miracle, but…is it really authentic?”
In the book of Revelation, the angel of the Lord, addressing to the Churches of Asia Minor, said to the one in Laodicea: “I will spit you out of my mouth because you are neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm” (cf. Rev. 3:15-16)
God does not love the lukewarm. Perhaps, God knows that he who advocates strongly “against” Him, can be converted. St. Paul was a great persecutor of Christians, but when our Savior met him on the way (to Damascus), he returned to the Faith and became one of the greatest apostles. It is easier to convert such a man than one who is a lukewarm. The lukewarm lives in the warm water: he neither “boils” nor “freezes”, nor is he good for anything.
Thomas was not a lukewarm man, he had faith, but he needed some evidence. Our Savior appeared to him and said: “Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into My side; and be not faithless, but believing.” (John 20, 27).
The Evangelist John does not mention whether Thomas put his hand on our Savior’s side, but we know what Thomas said: “My Lord and my God! “ (John 20:28)
He saw Jesus and understood that the proof was right before him. There was no other evidence for him to seek when Jesus was right there in front of him shining in the light of the Resurrection, entering through the locked doors and through the walls, a bright Savior shining forth everywhere.
Our Savior said something not for Thomas but for us: “Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed?” (John 20:29).
Jesus did not say: “Because thou hast touched Me, you believed!“… instead He said “Because thou hast seen Me!” and … “Blessed are those who have not seen (Me) and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)
This blessing is for us all, pious Christians. This blessing is for us who come to church to confess that Christ is the Son of God, Who suffered, was crucified, died, was buried, rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures and ascended into heaven. This is the foundation of our faith!
The lesson that we draw from today’s Gospel is that Jesus Christ came for everyone. He didn’t only come for those who believe or for Jews, or only for sinners. He came for the lukewarm as well, if they “warm up”.
So He came for the doubtful. And all of us have doubts … We doubt because we asked for something and God did not grant our request! But merely one cry in a “time of need” does not show faith. It rather shows human weakness. We must have a strong, steadfast faith, one that is indisputable. And today’s Gospel is for all of us who doubt.
When Jesus appeared to Thomas, who doubted Him, Thomas seeing our Lord, fell at His feet and said: “My Lord and my God!” Let us also fall at the feet of Jesus and cry out: “My Lord and my God! “
(From: Father George Calciu’ Living Words: “To serve Christ means suffering” Bonifaciu Press, 2009) translation by EC.