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Father Muench Says...

The story of St. Thomas is our story, too

April 13, 2016

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I think that the reason St. Thomas was not with the apostles the first time Jesus appeared to them was because he was simply depressed. Consider his situation.  Thomas had made a decision – a decision to forego a career for himself – a decision to join Jesus.  He was captivated with Jesus’ vision of all that life should be and what the world could become.  He was inspired by the message of Jesus, inspired by his spirituality.

Even at the Last Supper, Thomas found joy being with Jesus and hearing his talk of hope and confidence through faith in God.  He found hope for the future with Jesus.  Than everything went wrong.  Jesus is violently arrested and then we see all of the horrible events of Jesus’ crucifixion.  Everything was lost – the future seemed empty.  Thomas just wanted to be alone.  The other apostles found their consolation in being together but not Thomas.

After a while, Thomas decides to see what is going on.  So he goes back to the upper room to see the others and make a decision about what to do with his life.  When Thomas gets there, he finds the apostles all excited. They tell Thomas that they have seen the Lord that Jesus lives. Jesus is resurrected. Thomas is still in the dumps; he is still upset and all of this sounds just too good to be true.  So, he makes that statement that we all remember: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Still, not certain what is going on, Thomas decides to say with the others.  As we know, Jesus does appear to the apostles again.  Immediately, he approaches Thomas.  Come here, Thomas, and touch me, “do not be unbelieving, but believe.”  Thomas is truly surprised but does accept it all in faith.  Jesus has the last word – “Have you come to believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
This story is also our story.  Like Thomas, we lose faith, we lose trust in Jesus.  Jesus has always been present to us, he is like a friend, walking with us.  Then something gets in the way and we lose our closeness to Jesus. Some failing, some sin gets in the way. Something blocks our love of Jesus and then, as time goes on, we become rather disappointed in ourselves, even depressed.  Life becomes very empty.

Like Thomas, Jesus finds us. Jesus does not give up on us.  This is one of the unique realities of our Christian spirituality. God never stops loving us.  Jesus was sent to become one of us – human like us in every way, except sin.  Jesus understand our needs and hopes.  Jesus knows how to enter our lives in ways that rather surprise us.  We would believe if we could just touch Jesus - we sound like St. Thomas - but that is not going to happen.
So Jesus must find his ways to become present to us.  I suspect you have experienced some of those ways.  It may be through friends who are concerned about us and so they come to us in friendship and bring us to the Lord.  Again, this is just as the other apostles reached out to Thomas.  Or it may be through others, strangers who we meet and in some way they bring the presence of the Lord to us through their faith and way of life.

Truly, it may be anything that we could imagine, that could bring us the presence of God.  It is a matter of surprise; you just cannot schedule a time when the Lord’s presence is real.  Each time we participate in the Holy Mass, we expect to be close to the Lord.  However, that just doesn’t happen, every time. However, in faith, we know that sometimes it will so we can’t give up. 

Each time, we go to prayer we expect Jesus will find us.  But often we are not as open and ready as we should be.  However, we can’t stop trying.

One more thing – so many wonderful people bring Jesus to us.  There will be many times in which you are the person who brings the Lord to someone else because of your faith or your way of life.  Live well. You will never know when it is the moment you truly bring Jesus to another person.  Again, you can’t just decide yourself that this is the time.  Live well in the Lord and you will change the world.  I suspect you would be surprised right now by the number of times you have brought Jesus to others already.

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