July is the month in which we celebrate one of our Patron Saints, St. Thomas the Apostle. It’s also, this year, the month in which we hope the national Coronavirus restrictions for churches will be relaxed. As soon as regulations change, we will let you know. I know people are frustrated about us not being able to sing or receive communion in both kinds, but hopefully restrictions will be relaxed soon.
Thomas was known as ‘the twin’ but it is uncertain who his twin was. Thomas is universally known as ‘Doubting Thomas’, but I feel that this is an unfair assessment of him. Thomas wasn’t prepared to believe anything that was just told to him. Thomas needed proof. This is no bad thing. As humans we always need proof. We need proof of address, proof of identity, proof of qualifications etc. No-one just believes things at face value, and if we do, sometimes we are accused of being naive at best and downright stupid at worst.
So, if we automatically always ask for proof, why is Thomas so vilified? Is it because it was just assumed by the other disciples that everyone should just believe in the resurrection because they told them? Is it because Thomas should just have believed because Jesus spoke about the resurrection? Or, is it because we feel that we are being disobedient to the teachings of Jesus to require proof of his greatness?
I think that Thomas asked an ordinary human question about something that was totally out of the ordinary. The resurrection of Jesus was such an incredible event that it would take a lot of faith, blind or otherwise to believe it if it hadn’t been witnessed first hand.
When Jesus appears to Thomas, he immediately believes and kneels before the risen Lord. Jesus then allows Thomas to touch the nail wounds and the wound in his side. Thomas then exclaims ‘My Lord and My God’, the only disciple to do so. This event is immortalised in the east window of St. Thomas’ church, an image that has been viewed in Golborne for over 120 years.
Thomas then goes on to proclaim the Gospel and ends up in the Kerela area of India. Thomas was then allegedly martyred at St. Thomas Mount in Chennai on 3 July AD72 and his body was buried in Mylapore.
Thomas goes from being the ‘doubter’ into being an advocate, supporter and proclaimer of the Gospel. His encounter with Jesus was totally transformative. He was changed as we are changed when we believe in Jesus. Jesus gives Thomas a valuable lesson, he tells him about the people who believe and yet have not seen, and that means that faith is extremely precious. To have faith is a gift, a special gift, and it comes from Jesus. It’s important that we have faith, a God given faith, not a blind faith where we are blinkered and follow like sheep, but a reasoned faith where we ask questions and look for answers.
Jesus never leaves us without answers, sometimes the answers we receive are not what we expect from the questions we ask, but it is important for us to be open and receptive to what Jesus tells us.
This St. Thomas’-tide, let’s ask Jesus to guide us. Let’s be open to his call and let’s be able to say, ‘My Lord and My God’.
Your friend and Team Rector