When I was a student in the seminary once I travelled with my friend by train. In one big city we had to change. Because of the hot summer we stood at the opened door of the train waiting for it to move off. When the train started we saw a young man chasing it. So we opened the door and helped him to jump in. Then we started to talk. He asked us, what we were studying. When he heard our reply he started to attack the Church for many real and unreal faults. We didn’t let ourselves to be provoked. When he had use up his ammunition, he asked us, why we did not defend the Church. Noticeably he lost his confidence. He called himself a deist – a person, who believes in some great power ruling the universe, but not God. In further conversation it turned out, that his attitude was actually resentment towards God, because his family had had a car accident and his mother died. During our conversation God’s grace started to change his heart. In some particular moment he had to leave to train, because he reached his destination; we travelled on. I don’t know what happened with him later on, but I hope he has found peace and reconciliation.
I think about that meeting when I read today’s gospel. We see one of the Apostles who missed the approach of the risen Christ. When his fellows talk about this, Thomas doesn’t believe. He is like many people in these days: “Unless I see the holes, unless I put my finger into them, unless I put my hand into his side I refuse to believe”. Nowadays people choose things that are touchable, visible, audible… People are losing their faith because material things seem to be sufficient. When the senses are fed, nothing more is needed.
Let’s look again at the gospel. Thomas finds the answer after one week. A question rises in my head: why does he have to wait so long? We understand that Jesus had actually known his doubts. Why didn’t the Lord appear immediately to remove the doubts? When we read the gospel, this whole situation is described in one, rather short paragraph. But what was happening in Thomas’ head, mind and heart throughout the seven days?
We need doubts if we want to grow up in our faith. The doubts mean questions put to God, to ourselves and to other people. He or she who really looks for the answers will learn them. Faith without doubts, faith without questions is dangerous – we know this from the history of our country and from the current occurrences. Don’t be afraid of your doubts. But be afraid of people who have no doubts.
There is one other interesting factor of today’s gospel. Jesus reveals Thomas in a community. This is not ANY community; this is the Church. Jesus could meet Thomas in some private situation. But he chooses to show himself among the disciples. It shows us, how important a loving, open and patient community is. Charity was the first thing that made Christians recognizable at the beginning. If being a Christian at the beginning of the 21 century is to make sense, we need mutual love. The love that begins in Christ Jesus.