John 20: 19-31
Later on that day, the disciples had gathered together, but, fearful of the Jews, had locked all the doors in the house.
Jesus entered, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” Then he showed them his hands and side.
The disciples, seeing the Master with their own eyes, were exuberant. Jesus repeated his greeting: “Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.”
Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. “Receive the Holy Spirit,” he said. “If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?”
But Thomas, sometimes called the Twin, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples told him, “We saw the Master.” But he said, “Unless I see the nail holes in his hands, put my finger in the nail holes, and stick my hand in his side, I won’t believe it.”
Eight days later, his disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the locked doors, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.” Then he focused his attention on Thomas.
“Take your finger and examine my hands. Take your hand and stick it in my side. Don’t be unbelieving. Believe.”
Thomas said, “My Master! My God!”
Jesus said, “So, you believe because you’ve seen with your own eyes. Even better blessings are in store for those who believe without seeing.”
Jesus provided far more God-revealing signs than are written down in this book. These are written down so you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.
Saint Thomas’ story in the Gospels provides us with a story of failure that mirrors a universal human response to the challenge of faith itself. Who hasn’t been a “doubting Thomas” at some (perhaps many) stages in our own lives? It is the struggle of faith against the limitations of human reason, the struggle of faith against hopelessness, and the human failing to reject faith in favour of the limitation of our own experience.
Thomas, as it happens, has quite a life ahead in service to Christ. He travels the farthest, perhaps, of any of the disciples. Thomas ends up in India, where his conversion created a community of Christians that exist to this day.
The stories of all the saints are filled with these kinds of stumbles, failures, and doubts. The saints, starting with Peter and Thomas and working all the way to John XXIII and John Paul II, don’t lecture us on perfection. The saints beckon us to become their brothers and sisters, and to take heart in their struggles as we deal with our own. They remind us of the enduring love of God and our status as ever-prodigal sons and daughters, with our Father waiting for us to find our way home so that He can include us in the eternal celebration of His love.