On the 3rd of July the Church remembers St Thomas the Apostle; the older date was December 21st and still is in the Prayer Book Calendar, but our new calendar follows the reforms of the Vatican Council which were intended to give the story of Thomas more prominence by avoiding the “congested” Christmas season. The Greek churches observe the festival on the Sunday after Easter and another old date is the 6th October.
Thomas is often called “Doubting Thomas”, the man who doubted that Jesus, who had died on the Cross on Good Friday, was alive again on Easter Sunday. It was Thomas who interrupted Jesus at the Last Supper when he said: “We don’t know where you are going; so how can we know ‘the Way’?” Thomas demanded proof if he was to believe. But he wasn’t alone in finding the truth of the Resurrection difficult to accept. The women who hurried back from the empty tomb on the first Easter morning were not believed by the apostles. And Peter, who did go to the tomb, and found it empty, “went home wondering what had happened”.
I believe we can draw great encouragement from Thomas. Thomas was open and honest about his doubts. He was a disciple before and after his questions. He is remembered as a “Saint” not because his questions where contrary to his belief but because they were an honest part of it. Even though he asked the question “How can we know the way?” he continued to follow it, determined to learn more.
Thomas was an open and honest human being, he was also a loyal and trustworthy follower – he didn’t deny Jesus as Peter did, he didn’t betray him as Judas did. In fact, the honest courage of Thomas opened the way for others to see that faith should not be blind or timid. He asked questions, not to stir things up but because they were on his mind and in his heart.
“Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet believe” (John 20.19)
And so, this month, we remember Thomas, the Saint who believed, and who asked questions about his faith. Whatever questions are on your mind or in your heart, God wants to hear from you.
Almighty and eternal God,
who, for the firmer foundation of our faith,
allowed your holy apostle Thomas
to doubt the resurrection of your Son
till word and sight convinced him:
grant to us, who have not seen, that we may also believe
and so confess Christ as our Lord and our God;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
With my love and prayers,