Sunday, April 11, 2010

Did St. Thomas Really Doubt?

"Although from the very early morning on the day of the resurrection the good news of the resurrection was carried throughout creation, and even though angels from heaven (Mark 16:6) and holy myrrhbearers on earth (Luke 24:9) and even the guards at the Sanhedrin (Matthew 28:11) had already told of the miracle, the apostles were still in a state of fear and doubt, hiding behind doors and locks “for the fear of the Jews” (John 20:19). The disciples’ doubt is not surprising, for they were witness to the greatest miracle in the history of creation: humans killed God, and then He rose from the dead and saved the dying human race from the claws of hell. The disciples of Christ, after their teacher’s arrest, forgot all of His prophesies concerning the things about to take place. They did not believe the miraculous story of the holy myrrhbearers (Mark 16:11, Luke 24:11), and even while talking to the Risen One face to face, they hesitated to trust their own hearts (Luke 24:25) which were burning and trembling in the presence of God (Luke 24:32). This marvelous unbelief (Luke 24:41), human weakness, incapable of encompassing the magnitude of the miracle that took place, is reflected in the famous words of the Apostle Thomas: “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” (John 20:25)

People often refer to Thomas as “doubting,” not really considering the depth and the height of the “doubt” of this holy apostle. But let us look more carefully at this man. Was his doubt the same as that of the Judeans who yelled about the Savior Whom they crucified, “Let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him.” (Matthew 27:42); or was it similar to that which we hear from our contemporaries: “If there is God, let Him show Himself to all, and we will believe in Him and live happily ever after”?

We know about his faithfulness and sacrificial love for his Teacher. After following the Savior for three years, Thomas understood very well the danger Christ faced from the scribes and the Pharisees. The other disciples also understood it very well; that is why when the Savior decided to go to Jerusalem, the apostles tried to talk Him out of it, warning Him of the danger (John 11:8). But it was St. Thomas who said, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him” (John 11:16). One does not often hear such words from a doubter! After the Ascension of the Savior, the Apostle Thomas, according to the Church Tradition, went to preach the Gospel in one of the furthest and most difficult to reach places of the ancient world—India, where he was tortured and killed for Christ.

But on that day, a week after the Resurrection, when the Savior came to His disciples and Thomas was with them, the holy apostle needed only a push, only a step, in order for this disciple who so selflessly loved his Teacher to realize to Whom he had devoted his life. “My Lord and my God!” exclaimed Thomas, who only a minute earlier had been understandably doubting the accounts of his brethren. “My Lord and my God!” exclaimed Thomas from the bottom of his loving heart. To such a person as Thomas God comes. This is the kind of person that He allows to touch Himself! "

By Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov

1 comment:

  1. Poor St. Thomas. His doubting is a little like St. Peter's "little" faith that allowed him to walk on the water (Matthew 14:31). Maybe Jesus can call that little faith, but to me, wow, that is totally beyond where I am. I have not yet begun to believe. Oh Lord have mercy on me!

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