A 'Party -Poop'...A Saint for Today
2nd Sunday of Easter, Cycle All

John chapter 20 verse 19 to 21

Thomas had been disillusioned by Jesus' death but that did not alter the fact that the evidence for it was clear and final. He wished as much as any of them that Jesus was still with them, still there to teach, to encourage, to heal. But Jesus was dead.

When, at length, he joined his fellow apostles in the upper room, which now served as their damage control centre, Thomas was stunned to hear that they believed that the impossible had happened...that Jesus had literally done that which He suggested He would do! He had, so they maintained, rejoined them after having passed through death. As he listened to his companions, it became clear that what they were describing was not an encounter with a resuscitated corpse but rather with Jesus in some other mode of being.

How he wanted to cry out for joy and embrace them, to be one with them in their obvious conviction. How sorely he wanted to believe! But he could not. As far as he was concerned, what they were saying was incredible and to their great dismay, he said so. He was, as one child expressed it to me during a children's liturgy, "a real party-poop!"

For the next week, Thomas was a man apart. The others did their best to convince him but he insisted that he would have to see and feel for himself. Thomas was a good person. He was painfully isolated by his doubts and yet he was too honest to put them to one side for the sake of solidarity.

It is interesting to speculate as to how the other Apostles would have acted had they been in Thomas' shoes. We do not know enough about most of them to lend credence to such an exercise but we can at least imagine Peter, still smarting from his denial, refusing to be comforted...or the young John, robbed of his youthful exuberance and ready to grasp at any straw. We can guess that James and his brother John would have probably dismissed the story as wishful thinking on a massive scale and, true to the name given them by Jesus, "sons of thunder," concentrate upon getting even with those who had killed their leader.

But, in fact, the odd man out was Thomas, and it would appear that Jesus had planned it that way, otherwise He would have timed His initial appearance so as to catch them all together.

I think that Jesus knew Thomas well enough to be sure that his reaction would best illustrate something that Jesus wanted all of us, the other Apostles included, to understand and that is that Thomas' inability to believe did not betray some kind of personality or character defect which was, later on, healed as a result of his encounter with The Risen Lord. Nor did it even suggest that his faith in Jesus was in some way inadequate.

Thomas had questioned the fact of Jesus' resurrection and later, that question was answered through an encounter with Jesus. But that does not mean that, in the process, Thomas went from unbelief to Faith. It was not that simplistic. Nor did he undergo some kind of personality change, which rendered him transparently credulous, and thereby in line with the image that so many people have of believers. I suggest that after his emotionally charged profession of faith in The Resurrection, Thomas, having been freed from a paralysis of confidence, went on to follow Jesus...but still questioning...still wondering. Not because he lacked Faith but simply because that is the kind of person he was.

Clearly the Gift of Faith was never intended to displace all doubt. Without doubt who would need faith? Faith gives us the courage to live with our doubts, knowing that they are part of being human. Those who, like Thomas, question and doubt openly and often courageously, remind us that ours is a journey, not only IN Faith but also TOWARD Faith and that it is accomplished only by The Holy Spirit working within the personality structure of each one of us...so that, from time to time, here or there, each of us recognizes God's presence and is moved to say..."my Lord and My God!"

Click here to mail to a friend Mail this reflection to a friend.

Your comments are welcome.

Click here to return to the list of reflections.

Go to top

Welcome | Living Our Story | Just A Thought | Reader Comments |
Author's Remarks
| Newspaper Reviews | Free Downloads | Contact Us | Links