Rector's Blog

Saint Thomas

On the Feast of St Thomas

John 20:24-28

The world feels so uncertain at the present time and almost all of us  crave certainty.  We fear a lack of control. We don’t believe a lot of what we hear. We want proof.  The 3rd of July is the feast day of St Thomas,  the disciple who were are told could not  accept that Jesus had risen from the dead only on the evidence of what his  friends described.  He demanded proof and because of this he has gone down in history as Doubting Thomas – the disciple who would not accept the Resurrection until he saw and touched Jesus  for himself.  He has had quite a negative press!

To me though Thomas comes across as an honest person expressing honest doubt. Thomas doesn’t pretend he believes that Jesus  rose from the dead when he is struggling to do so just because others do.  Thomas is true to himself.  I think he was probably the kind of  who would wear a mask on the bus if he felt it was the right thing to do even if no one else did. If we think of the parable of the sower I think we can be sure that in Thomas’ case the seed did fall on good soil.  The story of Thomas shows  us that if we  sometimes struggle with doubt – and I am sure we all do  – that’s ok.  Because the story shows  that whilst Thomas expresses doubt  Jesus does not condemn him for doing so. Rather Jesus comes to Thomas and through that encounter with the Risen Christ Thomas does not remain a doubter. Through that encounter with Thomas  believes and goes to share the Gospel across the world. He is believed to have taken the Gospel to India.

Canon Michael Smith, Acting Dean at York Minster says that Thomas was ‘Doubting Thomas’ for one week, but then he encountered the risen Lord and became ‘Believing Thomas’,  and he remained ‘Believing Thomas’ for the rest of his life, and yet we still always refer to him as ‘Doubting Thomas’. People grow in faith, people also sometimes make mistakes. We have to allow people to change and accept that people do change.  We shouldn’t always be labelled.  We live in a world where second chances are not always easy.   A person can be vilified for a social media post they made ten years ago when they were a rather silly teenager.  But people do change and grow.  How does the saying go “God loves us so much as we are he doesn’t want us to stay there”?  Thomas wanted assurance and evidence. But most of all he wanted Jesus and needed a personal connection to dispel his doubts. We cannot feel Jesus’ wounds but we can encounter him – encounter him through hearing the Word of God and through the sacrament of the Eucharist.  And like Thomas after that encounter God calls on us to take the message out. Perhaps not as far as Thomas travelled but certainly out to the people we meet in our every day lives. Rev’d Canon Andrea Jones