Clergy Notes — Fifth Sunday After Pentecost, July 2, 2023

Monday this week is the Feast of St Thomas the Apostle, so frequently known – in an almost pejorative way – as Doubting Thomas.  Actually, I find it a comforting and encouraging descriptor.

You will recall that on the evening of the first Easter Day Thomas was missing when the Risen Christ appeared to the apostles in the upper room.  When he heard about it, he said famously, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’  That’s a not unreasonable statement, if you ask me!  The following Sunday evening, Jesus reveals himself to them again, this time with Thomas present.

Jesus does not criticise Thomas, but rather reveals himself to him:  ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’  Thomas recognises him, and worships: ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus responds first, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me?’ and then includes all of us down the ages who follow, ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’

In this passage, and earlier in John 11, Thomas is described as ‘The Twin’, though we never discover whose twin he is.  In John 14.1-6, as here, Thomas asks the question everyone else wants to, but holds back, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going.  How can we know the way?’  Commentators have suggested that John is inviting each of us to be that twin, encouraging us to ask with Thomas the questions of Jesus that are in our hearts:  ‘Where are you, Lord?  What are you saying to me?  What do you want of me?’

Thomas is the patron of our questioning, seeking, and searching:  in response, Jesus says to us, ‘Here I am.  Reach out, trust, believe.’  We might well echo the prayer of the child’s father in Mark 9:  ‘Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief.’  And then, with Thomas, cry out, ‘My Lord and my God!’

Every blessing,
Fr Kevin

Download the Liturgy at Home booklet for Sunday, July 2, 2023