The Feast Day of St. Thomas
I imagine the Apostle Thomas really loved Jesus. I bet he loved things like Jesus’ smile, and his warm eyes, along with the less tangible things like wisdom and strength. We know he was intensely loyal, and he believed he would follow his teacher anywhere, even into death.
But when it came to the moment after the Romans had rolled in and grabbed Jesus, the moment they hung him on a cross to die, Thomas was not there. Where was he?
I imagine he was terribly disillusioned, both by himself and by his rabbi. I imagine that what had happened ripped his heart to shreds, and he was anguished and grieving. So he wasn’t in the upper room with the rest of the disciples when Jesus made his Easter evening appearance. Where was he?
When the others went to find him and told him about the resurrection, he did not believe them. “Unless I put my finger in the nail holes and my hand in the wound in his side,” he said.
Despite his disbelief he did go back to his community. That is a good thing to do when you are so broken-hearted you think you are going to die. And so he was there for the second appearance of Jesus when the Master showed up a week later in the same upper room. He did get to put his finger in the nail holes and his hand in the wound in his teacher’s side.
Through doubt and through a very physical sort of testing he came to a transformed understanding of who this really was, this person he had been following. It wasn’t any longer the smile and the warm eyes; it was that Jesus would always be with him, even beyond death, closer than his next breath. “My Lord and my God,” he said.
What does it take to hope again after hope has been totally crushed? Perhaps community helps.
What does it take to learn to see with the eyes of the soul rather than those of the body? Maybe the witness of others helps.
When have I needed a complete transformation of understanding, one that comes through profound suffering? And when has God left me to work things out by myself, and when has God come to rescue me, saying, “put your finger in my hands, here, and your hand in my side. It is I”?
Laurie Gudim is a religious iconographer and writer living in Fort Collins, Colorado. Some of her icons can be viewed at http://everydaymysteries.com. And check out her novel at https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B074G137V8/ref=smi_www_rco2_go_smi_g2609328962?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1&ie=UTF8