"My Lord and my God!" This is the cry of faith exclaimed by St Thomas. We heard the familiar account of his encounter with the Risen Lord in the Gospel of Sunday. It was quite a journey for Thomas to get to that point of acknowledging, with joy and awe, the truth of Christ. It began with his doubt concerning the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. For that reason we often refer to the episode as the narrative of "Doubting Thomas".
Yet the account is not, in the final analysis, about him. It is rather about the Lord. The primary actor is Jesus. He led Thomas to faith. Thomas did not get there on his own. Appreciating this, the episode becomes an important instruction to guide our own lives.
Doubt is not foreign to many of us. Many developments today tempt us to it: illness, family strife, worrisome societal change such as assisted suicide and euthanasia, world terrorism and so on. In the face of suffering, we might doubt the love of God, his power over evil, or his presence among us.
Thomas's experience teaches us two foundational lessons for those moments when we are plagued by doubt. The first is to stay within the Church. Thomas's doubt first arose because he had not been with the other apostles when the Risen Lord first appeared to them. His journey to faith took as its first step a return to apostolic communion. The second lesson is to allow Jesus to lead us to faith. By placing the hand of Thomas into his wounds, Jesus healed Thomas's wound of disbelief.
From this encounter of Thomas with the Lord and with the apostles there arise questions we can ask ourselves in times of doubt. Have I ceased thinking with the Church? Do I accept instead other voices as my standard of measure? Do I think that faith is something I have to achieve on my own? Have I forgotten that faith is a gift, and therefore neglected to ask the Lord to heal my wound of doubt by his own wounds of love?
Jesus longs for our faith. He will lead us to it if we but surrender to his prompting and seek him in that communion of apostolic faith called the Church.