July 3, 2019 – Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle
JN 20:24-29Thomas, 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.”The Gospel of the Lord.
Do you always lock the door of your room? Or house? Well, of course, we lock them and even use different kinds of locks. It is a common sight also today among big houses to install security measures from the simplest to the most sophisticated methods.
There are houses that aside from the grills and fully locked doors, high walls are also built with barb wires on them and sometimes with eclectic current running on those wires for 24 hours. Cameras are also installed in every corner to monitor strange movements and strangers.
We have these security measures to protect our properties from robbers and people who may have bad intentions. Yet, they also reveal our fears and insecurities despite our protective measures.
Having defensive mechanism is a similar situation that may happen to a heart that is hurt and bruised. To experience pain in our relationships makes us more defensive the next time we relate with others. We become defensive and even withdrawn with others because we fear of being hurt again. Thus, we shield ourselves from any possible pain or hurt, because we are afraid of what others can do to us.
This happened also to the disciples of Jesus. The disciples hid themselves in a room because of fear even though that they have already seen and met the Lord. They locked the door to make sure that no stranger could enter. It was their way of protecting themselves because they were afraid that what happened to Jesus might also happen to them.
However, what was more interesting in the Gospel was on how Jesus appeared in their midst even when the doors were locked. Jesus appeared to them and brought peace to the hearts of these fearful disciples.
Yet, we also find Thomas who was not there at that time of the first appearance of Jesus, still holding on to his fears and doubts. Despite the testimony of the other disciples, Thomas couldn’t accept that the Lord was raised. Because of that, his heart was more locked than the door. That is why, Thomas set a condition before he would believe that Jesus is alive. He said, “unless I will see and touch him, I will not believe.” Because of so much fear and doubts, Thomas insisted that condition in order to protect himself.
Just as Jesus met the other disciples in their own hiding place and so he did it also to Thomas. Jesus appeared once again and asked Thomas to touch his wounds so that he may believe. Jesus submitted to the condition of Thomas.
The Gospel tells us today – the Lord meets us wherever we are and he takes us seriously in all our fears, anxieties and doubts. When God meets us in our own hiding places and closed doors, He brings peace to our troubled hearts. This is an assurance that in God’s presence we find peace and without Him we will always be disturbed and insecure.
The Lord has indeed the guts to be where we are at the moment especially when we decide to retreat to our own cocoons of self-centeredness, to our old bad habits and addictions, to our defensive mechanisms and withdrawal from other people, and into our angry and irritable response to people around us.
It is when we recognize God in those moments that He will also invite us to touch his wounds just like Thomas. Being aware of the wounds and touching the wounds of Jesus means that Jesus feels our own pain and suffering, our fears and anxieties, questions and doubts. Hopefully, that experience will lead us to proclaim like Thomas, “My Lord and my God.”
And so like Thomas, whose feast we celebrate today, we may also be able to touch the wounds of our brothers and sisters. That experience of touching wounds may hopefully make us one with those who are suffering. This experience too may also make us true Christians who are able to empathize with the wounded and will take the risk to become instruments of healing.
Let us also recognize those attitudes, beliefs and experiences that continue to lock us away from others and from God. This will be possible once we allow also the Lord to touch our wounds.
May this experience of touching wounds will make our locked and defensive hearts to open up, to be more accepting and risk taking in our relationships. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR