From doubt to Faith
Modern man has learned to doubt. It is the characteristic of our times to question everything in order to advance in scientific knowledge. In this climate, faith is left discredited. Man goes through life full of uncertainties and doubts. Hence, we can connect without difficulty with Thomas’ reaction, when the other disciples inform him that they have had a wonderful experience while he was absent: “We have seen the Lord.” Thomas could be a man of our days. His answer is clear: “Unless I see …, I will not believe.”
His attitude is understandable. Thomas does not say his colleagues are lying or that they have been fooled. He only affirms that their testimony is not enough for him to adhere to their faith. He needs to live his own experience. And Jesus will not reproach him not even for single instance.
Thomas was able to express his doubts within the group of disciples. They were apparently not shocked. They did not throw him out of the group. They did not believe the women either when they announced to them that they had seen the risen Jesus. The Thomas episode gives us a glimpse of the long road this small group of disciples had to go through until they come to believe in the Risen Christ.
The Christian communities should desirably be nowadays a place of dialogue where we could honestly share our doubts, those of us believers who question and seek. We do not all live the same inner experience. To grow in faith, we need the stimulus from and the dialogue with those who share our very restlessness.
But nothing can replace the experience of personal contact with Jesus in the depths of our consciousness. According to the gospel account, Jesus shows up again eight days later. He does not criticize Thomas for his doubts. His refusal to believe reveals his honesty. Jesus shows him his wounds.
They are not “proofs” of the resurrection, but “signs” of his love and his commitment till death. That is why he invites him to go into the depths of his doubts with confidence: “Do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas renounces all verification. He now feels no proofs are needed. He only knows that Jesus loves him and invites him to trust: “My Lord and my God.”
We Christians will find out some day that many of our doubts, lived in a healthy way, without losing contact with Jesus and the community, can rescue us from a superficial faith that is satisfied with repeating formula, so that we may be prodded to grow in love and trust in Jesus, this Mystery of God Incarnate that makes up the nucleus of our faith.
José Antonio Pagola
April 7, 2013
2 Easter (C)