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Divine Mercy Sunday
April 23, 2017

     I have long thought that the gospel writer included the story of doubting Thomas so that all of us who sometimes struggle to believe could have a patron saint.  Thomas’ reaction to his fellow apostles when they told him that Jesus was alive and had appeared to them was so very human and, I think, probably not all that different from the way we would have reacted: ‘Preposterous! Impossible! I'll believe it when I see it....’  And Thomas did, of course.  A week later, when Jesus appeared again to the apostles and Thomas was there, the doubter made a dazzling act of faith – one of the greatest, if not the greatest - in all the gospels: "My Lord and my God!"

     But was that really an act of faith that Thomas made?  To my way of thinking, it was less an act of faith than it was a cry of wonder and awe because, as the Letter to the Hebrews tells us, “Faith is the evidence of things not seen.” Once Thomas had seen the risen Christ, he really had no need for faith which has to do with things unseen. Despite the old saying, seeing is not believing. Seeing is just that and nothing more!

     So even though Thomas is not the patron saint of believers, he certainly gives hope to everyone who has ever doubted.  And he’s not alone. So do those frightened disciples of Jesus who, after the crucifixion, huddled together behind locked doors. If those apostles hadn’t been so fearful, and if Thomas hadn’t doubted, they would be less believable and we would find it harder to believe ourselves.  Every part of this story is there for us, then: the apostles’ fear and cowardice, Thomas' dogged doubt, and, I would add, Peter’s repeated denials. Each of those very human failings makes it possible for us lesser mortals to believe in our call to discipleship!

    And, my friends, I would add that, our faith is really more remarkable than the faith of those disciples because we have never had the face-to-face encounter with the risen Lord that they had. We haven’t seen him pass through locked doors or heard him greet us with words of peace. Nor have we probed the nail prints with our fingers or put our hand into his side. No. Our encounters with him, while powerful and wonderful, have taken place only in Word and Sacrament -- and in one another. That puts us squarely among “those who have not seen yet have believed” – which is another way of saying that it puts us among the very ones Jesus called “blessed!”

Father Michael G. Ryan 




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804 Ninth Avenue
Seattle, Washington  98104
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