Twins!

Today is the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle. A few fragments about him…

Thanks for the Beatitude, Tom!

Though he is so often known as the doubter, he is certainly no different than his apostolic brothers who also doubted not only the Magdalene’s testimony, but also still doubted even in the midst of worship after 40 days of resurrection appearances! We are most grateful to Thomas for his bold request to see and touch the Lord’s risen body because from that desire came Jesus’ wonderful and final beatitude: “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” That’s us!

And from that empirical encounter, Thomas offered a most extraordinary confession of Christ’s identity: “My Lord and my God!” How revealing that it was the probing of the un-healed Wounds that convinced him of Jesus’ divine identity. A lifetime of meditation.

Look-alikes

Thomas was also called Didymus, the “Twin” — likely because Didymus, the Greek word for twin, simply translates the Aramaic meaning of Toma, which also means twin. But another tradition has it that Thomas was given the Greek nickname because he looked like Jesus; a tradition reflected in some of the iconographic tradition. I like that one.

Far-East

From history, Thomas is best known for his unbounded zeal for spreading the Gospel to the ‘ends of the earth’ as he managed his way to Rome’s far-east trading outposts in India where there were some sizable Jewish diaspora communities. By tradition, he had great success and established a number of churches.

One of my favorite stories about Thomas in India, from among the many historically dubious stories that arose in the first few centuries after his death, is his response to a king’s request that Thomas (known as a skilled craftsman) build him a palace. Thomas, wishing to teach this king, spent all of the money given him by the king on alms for the poor, to whom his preached the Gospel. In response to the king’s enraged response, Thomas said, “I have built for you an imperishable palace in the heavens.”

A true Forerunner of India’s Great Saint of Charity, no doubt.

Indian Church

The history of the Christian communities in India is both fascinating and tragic.

And the eucharistic liturgies of India, deeply influenced by those of the Church of Syria, are quite spectacular and some of these liturgical Rites celebrated in the Catholic Church of India traditionally trace themselves back to Thomas. Take a moment to watch:

6 comments on “Twins!

  1. beads2rosaries says:

    As the saint I choose for my Confirmation saint – I must say that Thomas is special to me and our relationship is founded on mutual interest and respect. This label of the doubter is not completely fair. How many people did Thomas follow before Our Lord to find out they were not what they claimed to be? Maybe this doubt was from an experience of seeking wholeness in something other than Jesus.

    In my own life, I have found this to be true. I have traveled many times behind a false teacher. My own attempts at control and perfectionism always lead me places which do not provide fulfillment. When I realize that Jesus is calling, I always say “Really, Lord? – is that you Lord? I have to let go of these things to spiritually see and understand you?” Doubts! No, not really, just caution as too many times my own attempts at finding joy and peace have failed.

    These are just speculations of course, as to how Thomas was in such great doubt. I find him asking for what he needs and am grateful to remember how much love the Lord had to provide what he needed so the mission of the Kingdom could continue. Jesus provides for his students at all times the lessons most valuable for their growth. Even to the tangible need to see and touch before faith can take firm root and grow.

    • Doubt vs caution is excellent — I recall recently a priest sharing the story about having stepped on a rusty nail, going to the doc and having to have his wound scraped (!). At first he thought he would tough it out with no anesthesia, but when the nurse came back for a second go at the wound, his foot, he said, reflexively and quickly pulled back without his seeming to choose it. He had to look at her smile trustingly, and *will* to not pull away. He used it as a powerful analogy for learning trust after pain — and your musing made me see the same insight in you. And in Thomas! 🙂

  2. Michael Donahue says:

    There is nothing in the text that says Thomas actually touched Our Lord’s wounds; rather to the contrary. And far better than the corresponding scene in the Book of Mormon (3 Nephi 11:15) in which “a multitude” thus their hands into his side and touch the wounds on his hands and feet,

  3. Tom says:

    Dubito ergo Sum !

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