I had lunch with a priest friend today. Some nice Indian food seemed a perfect way to accompany a mealtime chat on the feast of the apostle to India
Later tonight, I noticed Jim Martin’s essay on Thomas, plus the commentary there. I liked his reflection on Jesus and where some modern believers part company with him:
The Risen Christ is gentle with doubters, with those who need reconciliation, and with those who are so confused that they cannot see him. Are we? Our church today seems filled with people who, when faced with doubt and sin and confusion, seem to want only to scold, castigate and condemn. But look at the way Jesus deals with doubt. He shows. He forgives. He calls someone’s name. In such gentle ways are people brought to know Jesus.
But Fr Martin is not exactly correct here. According to Saint Mark, there were other doubters. Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, but when …
She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. (Mark 16:10-11)
There were the two walking into the country who met Jesus …
And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. (Mark 16:13)
And the whole band of apostles were criticized:
Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.(Mark 16:14)
We should keep all these Resurrection stories in mind–all the more reason to be gentle with doubters. They are family, after all. Brothers to be sure.
Some apostles, the most famous of them, are identified as brothers. James and John, as you know. Peter and Andrew, too. Thomas is the fifth apostle identified as a brother. And closer than a brother–a twin. Who might that twin be? Does that relationship have significance like the disciple whom Jesus loved? Is Thomas just like us? Are we that twin?
Even in the conclusion of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus quickly moves on from apostolic criticism. There is a mission to be engaged. Thomas responded by spreading the Gospel as far afield as any of the Twelve. And today, we’ve surpassed that. Still a lot of work to do, and not just for the institutional successors of the apostles. All believers are called to be not only evangelical, but apostolic as well. No doubt, it’s only what younger sisters and brothers would do to respond to the example of an older sibling. No doubt.