Jul 3 – Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle
Thomas (d. 72) was ready to die with Jesus when Christ went to Jerusalem, but he is best remembered for doubting the Resurrection until allowed to touch Christ’s wounds. He preached in Parthia, Persia and India, though he was so reluctant to start the mission that he had to be taken into slavery by a merchant headed that way.
He eventually gave in to God’s will, was freed, and planted the new Church over a wide area. He formed many parishes and built many churches along the way. An old tradition says that Thomas baptised the wise men from the Nativity into Christianity.
His symbol is the builder’s square. There are several stories that explain it:
- he built a palace for King Guduphara in India
- he built the first church in India with his own hands
- it is representative of building a strong spiritual foundation as he had complete faith in Christ (though initially less in the Resurrection)
- he offered to build a palace for an Indian king that would last forever; the king gave him money, which Thomas promptly gave away to the poor; he explained that the palace he was building was in heaven, not on earth.
- Patron Saint Index
“Doubt no longer but believe.”
What would we have done if we were in St Thomas’ shoes that fateful day when he was told by his friends that the Risen Christ had appeared to them? Would we have uttered these lines, too?
“Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.”
If you ask me honestly, I would very likely go, “Sure or not?”
I admit, I am a sceptic, and I very often do not take what people say at face value. So, my faith journey, up till 6 years ago, was a lot of “Head knowledge and not enough Heart knowledge”. I know about Christ and His love and mercy for us. I know about our Blessed Mother and how, through her humility and trust in God, she has shown us the way to Jesus. But have I actually believed?
My skepticism could have been developed from a young age when I was told, literally, to trust no one. So, although I attended catechism classes, Saturday novenas and Sunday masses, did I really and truly believe that the Lord God is real and to fully trust in Him? I can’t really say for sure. The Lord has indeed been gracious and has blessed me over the years, but there has always been that sceptic in me going, “Sure or not?” So, I can really, really identify with St Thomas and his disbelief that the Lord Jesus had indeed shown himself alive to his friends, three days after His crucifixion.
But what really struck me was not that St Thomas doubted, rather it was his ‘conversion experience’ when he encountered first-hand the Risen Lord. His exclamation, “My Lord and My God!” acknowledging that Jesus is God and has indeed risen, was for me, profound and life changing.
This also reminds me of my Conversion Experience Retreat (CER) experience where I, like St Thomas, experienced the Lord in a personal and powerful way. During CER, I experienced many personal and powerful encounters with the Lord and even received the gift of tongues. As I have been extremely skeptical whenever I experience others speaking in tongues, I didn’t really believe that I had received the gift. After recounting the experience with my wife, she maintained that I had received the gift, but I still did not believe. The week after, I was in the Adoration Room and I asked the Lord whether or not I really received the gift. I flipped open the bible that I had with me and this verse jumped out at me, “Doubt no longer but believe”…
CER was truly a life changing event for me. Much like St Thomas, some of us were re-energized and finally realized how much God loves us and wants us to be with Him forever.
St Thomas, it is believed, brought the message of the Risen Lord all the way to India, China, Indonesia and even Paraguay. What have I done since my own conversion experience? Have I brought the light of Christ to the people around me? Have my daily actions shown that God is at the centre of all I do? To be honest, I am not sure. What I am sure of is that God is real. And that I don’t want to do anything that will destroy my relationship with Him. I haven’t been successful all the time — I am still a sinner and I struggle in my daily walk with Him.
I am still a sceptic. But I know that Jesus loves me and wants me to live a life glorifying and loving Him. This I am certain, and nothing will change this point of view.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Calvin Wee)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, you are holy and worthy of all praise. We ask for your graces to keep us strong and to always walk in your ways. That we may follow St Thomas’ example to bring the message of the risen Lord to all that we meet and to always proclaim Jesus as our Lord and our God. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Thank you heavenly Father, for all your blessings and gifts. Thank you Father, for the saints who by their lives and actions, lead us to an even more fervent faith in you. Amen.