Imagine what it must have been like for the Apostle Thomas who, alas, has gone down in history with the nickname, “Doubting Thomas”. He was among those who had been with the Lord from the beginning. He heard him preach, saw the miracles, and enjoyed the Lord’s friendship. When the Lord’s crucifixion and death occurred, it must have seemed as though his world had come to an end. So, when the other Apostles told him that, while he was out, the Risen Lord had appeared to them, Thomas thought they were delusional and demanded proof. He wanted, with his own hand, to inspect the wounds of the crucified Lord. A week later, Thomas got his chance – as the Lord invited him to touch the wounds by which we have made whole.
Pope St. Gregory the Great comments that Thomas’ incredulity, his lack of belief, even his resistance to believing – did more to kindle our faith than the faith of the other apostles. For when Thomas saw the Risen Lord bearing the wounds of our mortal flesh, he uttered a profession of faith repeated countless times by Christians everywhere: “My Lord and my God!”
The encounter with the Risen Lord changed Thomas forever. QWe might say it unlocked his God-given freedom. Not bound by the fetters of doubt and unbelief, he was no longer a doubting Thomas. Rather he became an evangelising Thomas who proclaimed the Gospel far and wide and bore witness to the Crucified and Risen Lord by his own death, his martyrdom.
Tradition has it St. Thomas brought the Gospel to present-day India. Thomas, in the power of the Spirit, went forth, far beyond his comfort zone. What has come down to us, especially through the Syro Malabar and Syro Malankara Churches, is a pattern to guide the Church’s work of spreading the Gospel, whether near or far, namely, to engage the culture constructively, drawing from it whatever is compatible with the Gospel, while proclaiming and celebrating the Gospel with joy and keeping one’s eyes fixed on serving the poor and the vulnerable.
Notice, that it was ‘for freedom that the Lord set Thomas free’ (cf. Gal. 5:1). By breathing into Thomas the power of the Holy Spirit, the Risen Lord set Thomas free from the heavy yoke of slavery to sin; the Risen Lord set Thomas free from the constraints of unbelief that lock us in a self-contained world of fear and despair; the Risen Lord set Thomas free for mission – free to leave behind everything so as to bring the Gospel as a stranger in a strange land.
I read recently the following words Spoken by an American Bishop.
”When we encounter the Risen Lord, no matter how incredulous we have been, no matter how resistant to the Gospel, when we encounter the Lord—this beautiful gift of religious freedom comes alive. It is entangled in the DNA of a response of faith and love to the Lord, to the Church, and to the mission which the Lord has mapped out for each and every one of us. Without truth, there is no freedom. Without freedom, there is no love”. If we would revitalize the evangelizing mission of the Church in our parishes, in other ecclesial settings, then we must unlock in ourselves and in the people we serve a renewed sense of this freedom that lies in the depth of our being. This gift is unlocked when we allow the Lord to free us from the slavery of sin – those things that cause us to misuse our freedom,
This gift is unlocked when we allow the Lord to set us free from fear, to make us “free to worship him without fear all the days of our life” – to give us “knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of our sins.” In a word, we are made free when at long last we allow the Risen Lord to touch the wounds of our existence, to heal our wounded freedom, to liberate us from the self-contained prison of our unruly desires, wants, and needs! Thus liberated, we are free for mission. Our spirit is freed, our tongue is loosened, we have the authenticity of true witnesses to Jesus Christ crucified and risen, witnesses who are able to engage those who have no faith, those who are alienated from the Church, those whose faith is lukewarm, those who are at the cusp of holiness and mission themselves.
May I remind you that during this time please remember I am only at the end of the phone and may I thank those who have phoned to ask after my welfare and those who have sent Easter cards together with Easter gifts and Easter offerings by post or pushed them through the letterbox. This has been very touching and is much appreciated at a time like this when we are all inevitably concerned about other matters. Many thanks. And please continue to keep safe by observing the advice given by the Government.