Doubting Thomas. That title is a reminder, if ever there was one, that nicknames stick, even if the nickname isn’t necessarily warranted or fair. Sure, today’s Gospel tells us in black and white that Thomas the apostle said he would not believe in the risen Lord unless he could see and touch the marks from the nails of the crucifixion and the wound where the soldier’s lance had pierced Jesus’ side. But what we tend to gloss over is that all the other apostles had already been treated to that visible proof the first time Jesus was in their midst. Jesus’ core group wasn’t exactly packed with quick believers. Remember how they initially doubted Mary Magdalene’s news of the resurrection. Remember how afterward, in the scene just before today’s Gospel, Jesus appeared to them, showed them his hands and his side—and then they rejoiced.
So why did poor Thomas get hung out to dry? In some ways, despite his title as the doubter in the crowd, he is the one who offers the rest of us hope. We hear Thomas’s story and realize that it is possible to doubt one minute and then say without hesitation, “My Lord and my God.” It is possible to make mistakes and be saved, to lose faith—however briefly and for however long—and find that Jesus is still there, in our midst, waiting for us to recognize him and accept the peace he offers.
Mary DeTurris Poust