By Shery Abdelmalek
What do we know about St Thomas?
He’s the one that doubted that Christ rose from the dead, but what else?
St Thomas was a brave and great saint He preached in India, China and Africa. When the king asked him about his achievements his response was, “The palaces that I built were the souls that have become the temples of the King of Glory; the carpentry that I did was the Gospel that removes the thorns of sin; and the medicines I practiced are the Holy Mysteries which heal the poison of the evil one.” He was imprisoned, tortured and finally received the crown of martyrdom.
Thomas went boldly before the Throne of grace to alleviate any doubts in the resurrected Christ. “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”
Thomas touched the wounds of Christ. His pierced Side. The nails that went through His Hands. Thomas is the real hero of this story. How many people in history can say that they have done this? Had he have taken the disciples’ word for it, he would have been preaching the resurrection blindly. He is the perfect model of overcoming doubt. Unless you have survived doubt, your faith still has room to grow. The kind of faith we strive for is one that has overcome doubt and not one that has never questioned. Question God but then find answers to your questions. King David doubted. We see it in the psalms, but he overcame. King David was a man after God’s own heart, through faith.
Doubt that is left unanswered and unresolved becomes the cause of distance between us and Christ. We should not allow ourselves to settle for a Christ that we doubt. We should not settle for lukewarm faith. Do as Thomas did. Christ was not even present when Thomas made his request, yet He responded as if He were. How did He know exactly what Thomas needed?
“Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
Christ tells him to be believing not unbelieving. There is a difference between the doubt that Thomas had and disbelief. In disbelief, there is complete assurance that we are justified in the conclusion made that Christ could not have resurrected from the dead. In doubt, there is still potential for belief. For whatever doubt you may have, trust that He has heard your prayer and is waiting to answer you in a way that will strengthen your faith.
The joy of answered prayer and a relationship with Christ is unparalleled. Our faith is weak because we do not encounter Christ enough. Thomas Sunday is a day of joy. It is the eighth day after Christ’s death. The church calls it the new Sunday because it is the eight day. The seventh day is the Sabbath and the day of comfort and so, the eighth day is the day of new life. The disciples received joy on this day. The disciples left everything for Christ. They had no career or lives of their own. And suddenly He was gone. They were in darkness and had doubts, all of them. The time when Christ was in the tomb would’ve been heartbreaking. When Jesus did appear, they would’ve felt great embarrassment at the way they had scattered. They said that they were prepared to die with Him but then fled.
Jesus did not return to rebuke them, but to strengthen them and give them hope. He enters the room in which they were staying and says, “Peace be with you.” No rebuke, no questions. Just peace that filled their hearts with all joy.
We rejoice in the power of His death that overcame death. There is power in the scars of Christ. “So Christ did triumph but through weakness not strength and through poverty not wealth” (Fr Manasseh Youhanna). He revealed Himself to Thomas in all humility through His wounds and not in the greatness of His Holy Majesty. Christ did not come as a King to earth, but as the son of a carpenter. He did not instate His authority over us but removed the filth of sin by His wounds. Through His stripes, we are healed. Christ reveals Himself in His wounds.
Fr Yacoub Magdy says, “Looking at His scars in eternity will be the source of joy. Every time we touch His scars we will have tremendous joy. I have never seen a new priest praying his first mass and touching the scars of the Lord without crying. I watch it with eagerness! Something happens to them that gives them tremendous joy.”
When we look to Thomas, we look to him so that we can imitate the way he doubted on that very day. Make your doubts known to God. Tell Him exactly what you need for your faith to grow, and He will provide.
Unless you can cry out like Thomas – “My Lord and my God!” – when he saw the resurrected Christ, there are doubts just waiting to be turned into an unshakable and unwavering faith.
Fr Yacoub Magdy on the joy of the New Sunday (25 min) – https://soundcloud.com/upperroommedia/the-new-sunday
Fr Anthony Messeh on doubt that leads to faith (20 min) – http://subspla.sh/zfruanh