CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 16 June 2018

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Answering the doubting Christians

The doubt of Saint Thomas is proverbial. Yet, was Thomas, really, the only one to have doubts, while the other disciples easily and immediately believed in the Risen One? It does not seem that things went that way.
 
The Gospel of Mark says that Jesus appeared to the eleven “and rebuked them for their unbelief….. because they had not believed those who had seen him risen” (Mark 16:14). In Luke’s gospel, the risen Christ addresses the amazed and frightened apostles and asks: “Why do doubts arise in your hearts?” (Luke 24:38). The last page of the Gospel of Matthew even says that when Jesus appeared to the disciples on a mountain in Galilee (therefore long after the apparitions in Jerusalem), some still doubted (Matthew 28:17).
 
All, therefore, doubted, not only the poor Thomas. How is it then that the evangelist John seems to want to focus on him the doubts that have gripped the others? Let us try to understand.
 
When John writes (about the year 95 AD) Thomas was already dead for some time. The episode, therefore, is certainly reported not to put this apostle in a bad light. 
 
The evangelist wants to respond to the questions and objections that Christians of his communities insistently raised. They have not seen the Lord. Many of them do not even know any of the apostles. They find it hard to believe; they would like to see, touch, and verify if the Lord is truly risen. They wonder: what are the reasons that may lead one to believe? Is it still possible for us to have the experience of the Risen Lord? Is there any evidence that he is alive? These are the questions that we ourselves ask today.
 
To them, Mark, Luke, and Matthew respond by saying that all the apostles had hesitations. The path of faith was long and tiring also for all the disciples, even though Jesus had given many signs that he was alive and entered into the glory of the Father.
 
The answer of John is different: he takes Thomas as a symbol of the difficulty that every disciple meets to come to believe. What John wants to teach the Christians of his communities (and us) is that the Risen One has a life that escapes our senses; a life that cannot be touched with bare hands or seen with the eyes. It can only be achieved through faith. This was also true for the apostles, who had made a unique experience of the Risen Lord as well.
 
One cannot have faith in what is seen. You cannot have demonstrations, pieces of scientific evidence of the resurrection. If anyone wants to see, observe, touch, one must renounce his faith.
 
We do not say, “Blessed are those who have seen.” For Jesus, however, blessed are those who have not seen, not because it costs them more to believe and thus have greater merits. They are blessed because their faith is most genuine, and purest, indeed, is the only pure faith.


 ● Father Fernando Armellini
 Claretian Publications
 
 https://sundaycommentaries.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/2nd-sunday-of-easter-year-b-april-8-2018/
Translated by Father John Ladesma SDB
Abridged by Father Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF