Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Peace be with you!

Today is the Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle!

John 20:24-29
Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But Thomas said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

I can recall moments in my life when I begged to feel the presence of God... moments when He felt so distant, I began to wonder if He were really there at all. It is in looking back that I know that God was there all along, perhaps even closer than I realized... but, for whatever reason, God did not permit me to feel his presence at that time.

I love this gospel reading... I love how Jesus just appears before them, the doors locked, and addresses Thomas right away by telling him to do the very things Thomas said he would have to do in order to believe. Jesus wasn't present when Thomas said those words. Can you imagine being Thomas? I love that, in this short passage, the rest of us were also addressed: "Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."

When I struggle in my faith and I feel God is far, I can think of this passage. Jesus didn't condemn Thomas for his unbelief. Instead, He helped him believe. Even while Thomas was doubting, Jesus knew Thomas' heart and mind. Jesus knew that believing without seeing would be a struggle for many... So, when I doubt also, Jesus knows my unbelief and He does not condemn me. Instead, He helps me believe!

"Peace be with you." I love these words spoken by Jesus. Can you imagine? Thomas... in his unbelief, hearing Christ say "peace be with you" and then having his eyes opened to see that the Lord was standing right there in front of him?! Each week, we say to each other during Mass "peace be with you". I wonder how many people feel touched by this simple exchange of words. The words of Christ spoken to one another: to the hurting and the joyful, the doubting and the believing, the loved and unloved, the weak and the strong, the rich and the poor. For that one moment, we are all in that room, Jesus reaching out to us and helping us believe!

Jesus, thank you for your peace and for helping us in our unbelief. Thank you for your patience and unconditional love. Amen.

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