We are familiar with the story of St. Thomas, “one of the twelve,” who was not with his brothers when Jesus appeared to them on Easter day.
“Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe,” he declares (Jn. 20:24-25).
Thomas is carried away, perhaps. But where did he get the idea of demanding such proof of his Lord’s resurrection? As the apostles no doubt informed him in vivid detail, on first appearing to them, Christ had “showed them his hands and his side,” unasked.
In a sense, then, the truant apostle is taking his cue from above. Nor does our Lord discourage him in this tendency. Appearing again on the octave day, he urges Thomas to make good on his boasting, and put his fingers into his hands, and his hands into his side.
Faith is a virtue, but gullibility is not. Though Christ here commends those “that have not seen, and have believed,” he does not expect us to believe just anything we are told by anyone. We would do well to ponder the basis of what we believe.
In showing the apostles his wounds, the Lord demonstrates that the same man who was brutally murdered is now alive and well. At the same time, he reminds them of the love that made him willing to die to give them life.
Those who accept Christ’s gift of life must likewise be willing to give their lives for Christ and for his Church.
Another St. Thomas—the one from Aquino—tells us that the greatest visible proof of the truth of our religion is its steady expansion during an age when its adherents were systematically put to death.
In obedience to the God who “came by water and blood,” and who testifies to his divinity through “the spirit, and the water, and the blood” (that is, through the sacraments, and through their transformation of our lives), the Church has learned to take after her founder, rising again and again from death at the hands of the world.
Perhaps the greatest proof of Christ’s resurrection is the power he gives those who believe in it to renew it before the eyes of every doubting generation.
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