Kate Maslen, one of our members, has written a short reflection on Thomas’ doubt and faith in the light of the resurrection…
Today is Low Sunday. It’s the first Sunday after Easter and I suppose we are all feeling a little low, the excuse to eat excessive amounts of chocolate is over, the party that was the initial celebration of Jesus Risen is over and the bank holiday is over.
However, Low Sunday isn’t called Low Sunday because of our self induced hang overs but because it closes the Octave of Easter – the eight-day period from Easter Sunday until today. It is also called St. Thomas Sunday.
How many people have heard of the disciple Thomas?? course – otherwise known as Doubting Thomas?? Thomas is also referred to as Didymus (which means twin) and although the name Thomas is actually an ancient name (not as English as it may sound) we’re not really sure that was his name at all. In fact we don’t know a great deal about Thomas full stop. He only appears in Matthew, Mark and Luke when listed with the other disciples and he only appears three times in John.
What we do think we know is that St. Thomas travelled to India and spread the gospel there. For many centuries the Christians of Kerala have called themselves St. Thomas Christian’s.
The previous two times we’ve met Thomas in the bible he’s demonstrated that his is not fearful and doubting but loyal and honest. We don’t know where Thomas was the previous resurrection Sunday – we’re not told – but you can easily see that he must have been distraught – this loyal and honest man wasn’t there because his world had been totally shattered and torn apart – he wasn’t there because his heart was broken – his teacher was dead.
So now, he’s being told about the resurrection of Jesus, he’s being told about the Presence of the Lord, the Power of the Lord, the Peace of the Lord, the Praises of the Lord the Promotions of the Lord and the Provisions of the Lord – all these things happened on the day Jesus revealed himself to the other disciples – that’s a lot to have missed out on and hardly something that is easily told – it’s something you have to see for yourself. It’s easy to see why he responded the way he did – I don’t believe you!
He had not placed his fingers in the mark of the nails and had not placed his hand one Jesus side where the spear had torn into his flesh. Imagine, this loyal and honest apostle, this man who had been told that his teacher was dead, being told that he was alive – he really was low, this really was the ultimate low Sunday – why should he believe? Why should he just take their word? One last time Jesus replies, once again Jesus is there to hold the hand of this loyal, honest and questioning follower.
Jesus appears to the disciples, coming through locked doors and says 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’.
And you know what? Thomas does! ‘My Lord and my God!” So Doubting Thomas? No, more like Faithful Thomas.
For me the story of Thomas through John is one that I wish more Christians would hold onto. It’s a story of a man who is not afraid to ask the difficult questions, a man who is not afraid to challenge or speak truth unto power – he is a man who does not leave his brain at the door when he encounters Jesus – he is a man who embraces his faith and continues to question.
I’m a little bit in awe of St. Thomas – I think he teaches us an important lesson and I think he opens the door for us to have a greater understanding of Jesus, so I’ll head back to my bible and read those passages again, this time without first thinking of Thomas as doubting, but thinking of him as loyal, honest and faithful.