Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Journey Toward Faith

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Eclesalia Informativo
April 11, 2012

John 20:19-31

While Thomas was absent, Jesus' disciples had an unprecedented experience. When they see him coming, they communicate it to him full of joy: "We have seen the Lord." Thomas listens to them skeptically. Why would he believe something so absurd from them? How can they say they have seen Jesus alive when He died crucified? In any case, it must have been someone else.

The disciples tell him that He showed them the wounds on His hands and side. Thomas can't accept anyone's testimony. He needs to see for himself. "Unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands... and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."

This disciple who refuses to believe naively, will teach us the journey those of us who haven't even seen Jesus' face or listened to His words or felt His embrace, have to make to get to faith in the Risen Christ.

Eight days later, Jesus appears again to His disciples. He addresses Thomas immediately. He doesn't criticize his approach. There is nothing illegitimate or scandalous about his doubts. His resistance reveals his honesty. Jesus understands him and comes to meet him, showing him His wounds.

Jesus offers to satisfy his requirements. "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side." Those wounds, more than "proof" of something, are they not "signs" of His love poured out unto death? Therefore, Jesus invites him to go deeper, beyond his doubts. "Do not be unbelieving, but believe."

Thomas gives up verifying anything. He no longer needs proof. He only experiences the presence of the Master who loves him, attracts him, and invites him to trust. Thomas, who has made a longer and more laborious journey than anyone to meet Jesus, goes further than anyone in the depth of his faith. "My Lord and my God". No one had confessed Jesus like that.

We don't have to be frightened when we feel doubts and questions springing up within us. Doubts, when experienced in a healthy way, save us from a superficial faith that contents itself with repeating formulas without growing in confidence and love. Doubts stimulate us to go all the way in our trust in the Mystery of God incarnated in Jesus.

Christian faith grows in us when we feel loved and attracted to this God whose face we can glimpse in the gospel stories of Jesus. Then His call to trust will be stronger in us than our own doubts. "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."

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