St. Thomas the Apostle and the Doubter?

St. Thomas the Apostle

Celebrating the Famous Doubter— St. Thomas the Apostle

On July 3, the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, better known as “Doubting Thomas.” St. Thomas has been dubbed “the doubter” for thousands of years and counting for questioning Jesus’ resurrection. As the story goes, after some of the disciples encountered Jesus for the first time after His resurrection, they went to Thomas to tell him the astounding news. Taking his fellow disciples’ word as truth wasn’t enough for Thomas; he demanded physical proof. In John 20:25 he told the other disciples, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

We All Have a Bit of Doubting Thomas in Us

While St. Thomas will forever be labeled “the doubter” and for having the gall to question Jesus’ resurrection, to be fair, shouldn’t we all be called Doubting Thomas, or Doubting Laura, Doubting Susan, Doubting Jack, etc.? Like St. Thomas haven’t we all doubted our religion at some point? Have you ever questioned the validity of the accounts in the Bible? Or wondered if the authors of the Bible missed something or were wrong? What if Jesus never really rose from the dead? What if the disciples dreamed it? If only we have physical proof. But we don’t. This is when having a strong foundation of faith is pivotal.

Faith vs. Seeing Is Believing

St. Thomas was eventually given the proof he needed by seeing Christ resurrected with his own eyes. Jesus said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20: 27-28) He finally believed.

But what about the rest of us who’ll never have that concrete proof during our lifetime? The answer to all our doubt is faith. "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1) How do we gain faith? Faith is a gift from God and is something we should pray to Him to grant to us each day. In one of the homilies from 

St. Thomas the Doubter, the author explains, “if we begin to doubt, there are two mistakes we can make: trying to fight the doubts on our own or accepting the doubts as wisdom. If we begin to doubt, we must turn to God and ask for more faith.” Our faith will be tested many times as we journey through life: in times of unbearable heartache, challenging disappointments, and devastating losses.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church shares the following useful insights on faith during troubling times:

Faith is often lived in darkness and can be put to the test. The world we live in often seems very far from the one promised us by faith. Our experiences of evil and suffering, injustice and death, seem to contradict the Good News; they can shake our faith and become a temptation against it. It is then we must turn to the witnesses of faith: to Abraham, who "in hope. . . believed against hope"; to the Virgin Mary, who, in "her pilgrimage of faith," walked into the "night of faith" in sharing the darkness of her son's suffering and death, and to so many others…”

St. Thomas: From Doubter to Preacher

St. Thomas soon ventured out to preach the Gospel in such faraway lands as Parthia, Media, Persia, Hyrcani, and finally India. It’s in India where he made the most profound impact and converted many to Christianity.Like so many others, Thomas endured much suffering and persecution for his faith.

The story of St. Thomas’ life is a great example for us; even though we doubt, it doesn’t make us bad, just human. But as humans we need divine intervention. Pray to God constantly for the gift of faith. It’s the safety net we all need as we teeter along life’s tightrope. Faith is what will carry us through the brightest and the darkest times, and will sustain us until that day when we, like St. Thomas, will be able to stand before our Savior and finally say, “My Lord and my God!”