Today in the life of the Church we celebrate the apostle St. Thomas. I like Thomas. That’s right, I’ll say it again: I like Thomas. Here’s why: he’s just about the most real and accessible of the apostles (OK, maybe a tie with him and good old St. Peter, the block head). Thomas is accessible for me, and maybe for many others, because of his major claim to fame: he doubted. He didn’t believe, at first; and if we are honest, how much DON’T we believe about this incredible story of the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus?
Most of us come to faith through doubt. And that is pretty much how it has to be. We all have doubts, but those doubts–if examined and thought about, prayed over, and most importantly discussed with others who believe (and even others who doubt)–have the potential to become seeds of faith inside of us. And very few have blind faith, or faith that, “just is.” Having doubt means that we haven’t closed the door on faith or believing, and in many cases the doubts we have from time to time only come back to bolster and buttress our faith in one way or another.
If you read the lectionary texts assigned to the Feast of St. Thomas you’ll see that the epistle reading comes from Hebrews and speaks directly to this:
“Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
- For yet “in a very little while,
- the one who is coming will come and will not delay; but my righteous one will live by faith. My soul takes no pleasure in anyone who shrinks back.”
But we are not among those who shrink back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
One of the most common misconceptions about faith is that doubt is the antonym of faith. The opposite of faith is not doubt, but indifference. In doubt you have an emotional and even perhaps a logical response…but indifference lacks that response. Faith moves people, and so does doubt.
When the disciples burst into the upper room on that third great day exclaiming that they had seen the risen Christ, Thomas perhaps lacked in that moment the “conviction of things not seen,” but that does not mean that he didn’t struggle with his faith, or that he had no faith.
Let’s also remember that even one of Jesus’ hand-chosen had doubt…but in the end was saved by the power of the risen Christ…just as we, with our doubts, are saved today.
Glory to God from age to age who gives doubt and faith so that through the working of the Holy Spirit and through the witness of the faithful we may be strengthened so that we, too, may believe being sanctified and saved through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.