Today the Mother Church celebrates the feast of Saint Thomas the apostle. The gospel of today concentrates much on Him. Saint Thomas, the apostle, is widely known as the doubting one.
Whenever you hear that someone answers doubting Thomas, know that He is what an Igbo man will call Ahunanya Ekwe (seeing is believing).
In fact, whenever we hear the name Thomas, many will immediately begin to think about that man that doubted that Jesus has resurrected. The man that later believed when Jesus appeared to assure Him that He has risen.
It is always normal to criticise and talk about this apostle. The reason is that he refuses to believe that Jesus resurrected. He says until He sees Him face to face and confirms that He is Jesus by putting his hands in the side, otherwise, he will not believe.
Jesus reproves this attitude and then goes further to bless those who did not see but believe.
Despite these, there are ten good things about Saint Thomas the Apostle we have to note through that encounter. They are:
1. Always Willing to Know.
We do not know much about Saint Thomas in the bible. The little information we know about him is in John 11 when Lazarus died. The other apostles were unwilling to follow Jesus. They tell Jesus that if Lazarus is sleeping, he will soon get better. So, there is no need to go to Bethany to wake him up.
It is Thomas who encourages the rest of the Apostles that they should go and die with Lazarus. He is willing to know the reason Jesus asks them to go to Bethany.
He is also the person who asks Jesus in John 14:5, How can they know the way to the Father? All these may be the reason he wants to know if Jesus has risen or not.
In Saint Thomas, we see someone who is always passionate to encounter God. In John 11, He is eager to see the sleeping Lazarus and encounter the miracle of raising Him from the dead.
Also, in John 14:5, he is eager to know the way to the Father, and in today’s gospel, he is eager to encounter the risen Lord.
The apostle teaches us to always be willing to know our faith, know more about the way to God, about God that we worship and willing to obey whatever Jesus says.
2. The Hunger for an Encounter.
When the other apostles tell Saint Thomas that His master has resurrected and has visited all the apostles, he doubted.
Many people criticise him a lot for this, but I do not think that Saint Thomas is different from the other apostles who stay in fear and lock themselves up.
Thomas is not also different from the other apostles, who when Mary Magdalene reports to them that the Lord had risen, they doubt (Mark 16:11).
Remember also that the Emmaus disciples were slow to believe ( Luke 24:25). Even when the disciples of Emmaus encountered the Lord and reported to the apostles, they also did not believe ( Mark 16:13).
When Jesus appeared to them in person, his apostles doubted if it was truly Jesus (Luke 24:38). Even when they saw him and worshipped Him, yet they did not believe ( Mathew 28:17).
So, there is nothing new between these people and Saint Thomas. Sincerely, when you look critically at Saint Thomas, you will see this hunger and thirst to have an encounter with the Risen Lord and to meet the Lord one on one.
In every Christian, there should be this hunger to encounter God daily. If every Christian develops the hunger for an encounter, the thirst and desire to feel the presence of God in our lives, there will surely be a change.
Today we only go to church but lack that sincere desire to know God and encounter Him in our lives. In each of us should be the hunger to find God, know Him and encounter Him. We can encounter Him through the Word and the Holy Eucharist.
3. The Way to Find the Truth.
Saint Thomas also teaches us that in seeking, questioning and in trying to find the truth, we shall surely find the truth. Saint Thomas teaches us to seek God with all our hearts.
When we truly seek Him, we shall surely find Him. Because of His quest to see Jesus, Jesus appeared again to assure Him that He is alive.
In Jeremiah 29:13, God says, “you will seek me and find me when you search me with your whole heart”. Therefore, if we seek God entirely with our whole hearts, we shall find Him.
Thomas teaches us the way to seek God with all our hearts. His eagerness to meet the Lord came out of a sincere and burning desire. This is like the Journey of St. Augustine who in trying to find the truth ended up being converted.
4.God can Show up When You least Expect.
Saint Thomas the apostle teaches us that if we have the hunger for God if we search for Jesus if we try to know whether He is real or not, He will surely show up when you least expect.
Also, if you do not give up on God, but stay in faith, refute any negative voices around you, God can still answer your prayers when you least expect. God will use many experiences and situations to prove to you that He truly exists.
Am not promoting doubt, but I am promoting that hunger to find God, meet and encounter Him. When Thomas was told that Jesus had resurrected, he did not just doubt but declared His desire to see Jesus also.
The apostles may think that Jesus would not appear again, and Thomas has lost His opportunity. But to assure Thomas that He has risen, Jesus appeared when they did not expect.
In this way, there may be times people may lose hope in you or think that your opportunity to make it in life is gone. God can still show up when you least expect it. Never lose hope. Anything can happen in the future.
So, through Saint Thomas, we learn that when others lose hope that you have lost your opportunity, refute it, until God says the same. He is the God of the eleventh hour.
Like Thomas, refute any negative and self-destructive claims and negative suggestions and stay in the expectation that one day, your own time will come.
5. The Product of an Encounter.
Through today’s encounter, Saint Thomas professes the divinity of Jesus Christ. You can bear witness to how Thomas professes faith immediately because He had an encounter.
Thomas shouted “my God and My Lord “. This is simply a product of an encounter, as the profession of one whom God saved when He least expected. The truth then is that we can never encounter Jesus and remain the same. Through any encounter we have with the Lord, our faith will increase all the more.
6. The Impossible Can Happen.
During the time of the apostles, it was never heard that any person can resurrect from the dead. It was never heard in Jewish history that any person has ever resurrected from the dead. So, to hear that Jesus Christ has resurrected may sound very impossible to Thomas.
It is the reason He says “Until I see the holes in His hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and until I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe”.
So, Jesus’ appearance is an assurance to Thomas that what we think is impossible can happen. With man, everything may not be possible but with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).
7. Special Privilege From God.
When Jesus appeared, He allowed Thomas to touch Him. By this, Thomas became the first apostle to touch the risen Lord, an opportunity Jesus could not even grant to Mary Magdalene, who saw Him first (John 20:17). Thomas also became the only apostle that touched Jesus after His resurrection. No one else did.
Here, we see a clear manifestation of ask, and you shall receive. Through Saint Thomas, we can learn that God can grant a special gift to anyone who seeks it.
It was recorded that Saint Nicholas of Tolentino, spent most of His time asking the Holy Spirit for the special gift of wisdom. He was granted such privilege that His words can touch even the most hardened souls.
In Luke 11:13, Jesus says “If you then, who are evil, know how to grant good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
8. What God expects From Us.
Through Saint Thomas, we have come to know what God expects from us. When Jesus appeared to the apostles, Jesus said to Thomas “doubt no longer but believe”. He also goes on to bless those who though have not seen but believe.
Through Saint Thomas, Jesus teaches us that every Christian should live in faith. This injunction reiterates what Saint Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, that we do not live by what we see. We walk by faith and not by sight. It is a command.
Christians should have more faith and not more doubt. Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Therefore when you say your prayers, attend masses, and visit the Blessed sacrament, always believe that what you do is real.
We do not do them only to fulfil a mere obligation. When you go to church, believe that it is God that you are going to meet and nothing more. Make it real. Do not doubt but believe is a guiding principle for all of us.
9. The Extent God Loves Us When We become His Own.
What Jesus did today is simple proof of how He can do anything for His disciples. Because of Saint Thomas, Jesus appeared again and gave him the privilege to touch Him.
To save us, God allows His son to pass through great torture and tribulation.
To make us have freedom, Jesus undergoes suffering, crucifixion and death. Here, we see a sign of someone willing to go through the worst to make us right. He died so that we may live.
Today, He goes to the extreme only to assure Thomas that He is alive. Through this encounter, We know the extent to which God loves us when we become His own.
Therefore, through Saint Thomas, we have known that God is willing to do anything to strengthen our faith.
Sometimes He brings difficult experiences into your life to bring you back to Him. Secondly, God is willing to go to any extent to make us better again. He is willing if we can stay strong.
10. The Fate of Those Who Believe.
Through Saint Thomas, Jesus extends His blessings to us as well. He says; happy are those who though have not seen but believe. Therefore, to become a true believer is a blessing.
May God bless you and give you the grace to develop a hunger for Him, that we may fully come to a knowledge of Him. Amen