Faith Gives Us Bearings

Today’s Gospel account gives us the story about the one we have come to call the Doubting Thomas. Thomas was very adamant in his response to the other disciples when they told him that they had seen the Risen Lord.  “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Why did Thomas insist that he had to touch Jesus? Wasn’t seeing him enough? Thomas had to touch him in order to be healed.  He had seen others healed my touching him, so strong was their faith. It appeared that Thomas’ faith was weak so he insisted on touching the wounds.

In reality, Thomas was the wounded one.  His mind was clouded by doubt and his heart was broken with grief. Even though these were invisible wounds, they were very real and extremely painful.  However, Jesus was able to see through them. It was Jesus who touched Thomas’ wounds, and so made him whole again.

The human heart is healed only by the presence of another human being who understands human pain.  Jesus’ wounds help us to recognize our own wounds, and to find healing for them.  The wounds of Jesus were a result of the Shepherd’s love for his sheep. They were the proof of his unconditional love.

The Gospel account today brings home the message of just how fragile is the human vessel in which the gift of faith is carried. It shows us that faith is essentially faith in a Person who loves us and has the wounds to prove it. At the heart of biblical faith is not only the faith we have in God, but the faith God has in us.

Jesus said to Thomas, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” What a wonderful compliment the Risen Lord gives us, the ones who have not seen him physically, but believe in him.

I would like to share this meditation I found with you as it seems very appropriate at this moment in time for the global community:

Some people think that if you have enough faith life will be plain sailing for you.  But this is not so.  The fact that we can swim doesn’t prevent us from being knocked about by the waves.  In the same way faith doesn’t shield us from the hard knocks of life or death.

What then does faith do?  It gives us bearings and thus enables us to live in a topsy-turvy world without getting lost or giving in to despair. Just as swimmers trust that if they don’t panic, and if they do a few simple things, then the power of the sea will uphold them, so believers entrust their lives to a power greater than themselves, a power greater than all of us. This power is the power of God, who brought his Son Jesus, back from the dead.

  - Father Dennis, April 19, 2020