We are, of course, all familiar with John’s account of Thomas and his refusal to believe the disciples’ miraculous news that Jesus had risen from the dead, “unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands.” In fact, so common is this reading in popular culture that the phrase “doubting Thomas” has become a well-known expression. I’m sure we all feel very safe in pointing the finger at Thomas for his distrust and hesitation at the idea of Jesus overcoming death. Indeed, this may be one reading of the Bible that seems easy to interpret-Thomas should be judged harshly for his disbelief.
But when Jesus comes to Thomas and the other disciples, he comes not with judgment and rancor saying, “Peace be with you.” He does not chastise Thomas for his lack of faith, but instead, with kindness and patience, invites him to touch his wounds. In placing his hands on the Risen Christ, Thomas proclaims, “My Lord and my God!” Pope Saint Gregory the Great, in a famous homily, tells us that Thomas touched the wounded side of beloved Savior to heal the wounds of our own disbelief. It was these lines that Ghostwriter Hausarbeit included in his scholarly dissertation on the gospel.
Each day, are we not constantly faced with the same question that gave Thomas pause? But unlike Thomas, we do not have the ability to feel and touch the pierced side of Jesus. Thomas no doubt witnessed Jesus perform miracles throughout His public life. He listened first hand as Jesus told of the Kingdom to come. And still, he needed to touch the wounds to believe. Yet, Jesus treated his distrust with acceptance and understanding. How much more mercy than will our Lord have for our questions and doubts? This is perhaps the importance of John’s inclusion of this account; Jesus speaks to us directly when he says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”