These words of Our Blessed Lord to Saint Thomas in this Holy Mass are some of the most beautiful in the Gospel.
They may appear to be a rebuke or a reproof. And one could understand Our Lord’s frustration when one of his chosen twelve, after all they had witnessed and had been taught, still did not believe – even when the others insisted that they had in fact seen the Lord.
But no. These are not words of reproach. They are a compassionate invitation to faith.
In a manner analogous to the divine condescension of the Incarnation itself, Our Lord humbles himself further to appear personally to doubting Thomas and offer him the ‘proof’ he demanded. Our Lord gives to Thomas all that is necessary for him to believe. There is no retribution exacted for his reticence or pride – merely a further manifestation of the reality of the historical fact of the bodily resurrection of God incarnate. Nothing less!
Doubts and fears and anxieties abound in our world, in the Church, and even at times in monasteries. They cripple us and isolate us. They lock us up and render us unable to move forward in the realisation of our God-given vocation. The talents He has given me to use for His glory remain buried. We make many excuses and may even paraphrase the protest of St Thomas by way of excuse: “Unless everything conforms to the standards I myself set, unless everything is exactly how I want it to be, I will not…” We thereby shut ourselves away from others – even from God and His Providence.
Through the reality His Body, the Catholic Church, Our Blessed Lord stands in our midst regardless of the strife that abounds around us and within us. Through her sacraments He invites us to touch Him – and indeed He reaches out to touch us – that we might believe. Again and again – in spite of our fears – he invites us not to be faithless, but believing.
This faith, as St John teaches us in the epistle of this Holy Mass, is our victory over the world and all its works, and all its empty promises. Faith in Jesus Christ, truly risen from the dead, not only gives us the hope of sharing that same resurrected life after death; it also enables us to live this life in that hope, in faith and in charity. It enables us to become and to do that which God calls us to be and has, from eternity, given us alone to do in this world.
“My Lord and my God,” Saint Thomas responded to Our Lord. One can but imagine the flood of tears that followed; strong tears of unmerited love experienced in the most intimate and life-giving manner.
My brothers and sisters, Our Blessed Lord appears to us – we, the “blessed who have not seen and who yet believe” – in the Sacred Liturgy of His Church day in, day out, year after year. Perhaps He is almost too generous in so doing, for we can easily become complacent before the singular privilege that is ours by means of our baptism – and this complacency, too, can easily cripple us.
Let this Easter day, the Octave of which we have celebrated, call forth from us, with Saint Thomas, a renewal of our faith. “Do not be faithless but believing” Our Lord challenges each one of us this morning.
Let the reality of Christ’s resurrection bring forth our tears of gratitude and love in response to the mercy and grace we have received and continue to receive at this holy altar. And let the truth of Easter day strengthen us anew in our resolve faithfully to discharge that unique mission which Our Lord Himself has given to each of us. +