It is in this context that, in our liturgy for this week, we meet St Thomas. We know the story. After his resurrection Jesus appears to his disciples when Thomas is not with them. When Thomas comes back, they tell him what happened, but he does not believe them saying, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” Jesus comes back a week later, specifically for Thomas. Upon seeing the Lord, Thomas erupts in that beautiful expression, “My Lord and my God!”
Because of this story, Thomas is often referred to as the one who doubted his faith. Looking at the gospels, I doubt whether Thomas really lacked faith in Jesus. I believe what was really lacking here was faith in his friends. With him, they all had abandoned Jesus in his moment of trial, having earlier professed that they would never leave him. They, all of them, were not people one can rely on. Still, we can safely say that what saved Thomas was the fact that he never abandoned his community. Yes, they were broken, weak, disillusioned. It was not a perfect community – far from it. Yet Thomas knew that his place was there. That was where he belonged. Had he abandoned that small community he would probably have never had the chance to meet the risen Christ.
Jesus knew what was going through Thomas’ mind. The merciful Lord returns not to condemn Thomas for his actions, but to help him. And what he does is truly amazing. Jesus shows Thomas his wounds. The apostle recognizes his master through the signs of the scary and scandalous events that had happened just a few days earlier. The resurrected Jesus Thomas saw had a wounded body, not a perfectly healed one.
What happened to Thomas can also happen to each one of us in our lives. Often we are scandalized by a Church that is wounded. We doubt the validity of the community we form part of. And yet, it is only there that we can meet the risen Christ. On the road to Damascus St Paul recognized that Jesus Christ and the Church were one and the same thing. Jesus invites Thomas to put his hand and fingers in those wounds. The apostle had to learn that he was not to be scandalized by those obvious reminders of what evil can do. He had to acknowledge them knowing, however, that they did not have the last say. In spite of what had happened on Good Friday, Jesus is alive. Those wounds did not stop him from coming out of the tomb to see his friends again. And he gives that broken, wounded community a mission: to go out, to forgive, to heal.
On this Sunday we remember and celebrate Christ’s merciful love for us. We are also invited not to let our own brokenness paralyze us. With the power of the Holy Spirit given to us by the risen Christ, let us be true bearers of the merciful love which we all continue to receive.