“I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.”
This Fourth Sunday of Advent is focused on Christ’s coming among us. Holy Mass highlights the first coming of Christ and encourages the faithful to live a Christ-centred life. The example of St Thomas can help us to do this – despite our doubts and difficulties.
St Thomas – an example of doubt leading to certainty for the faithful
St Thomas was one of the Twelve Apostles. He is patron saint of architects. St Thomas was dedicated to following the Lord.
He was willing to give his life as an act of solidarity with Jesus. Thomas questioned what he did not understand but Christ sought to ease and assure the apostle in reply to St Thomas’ searching nature – and his answer impacted the lives of all Christians to come. In reply to one of Thomas’ questions, Jesus told him: “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.” (John 14:6)
But like St Peter he was not without his faults. Christ offered both men the opportunity to strengthen their faith using their individual weaknesses.
Both men became saints as they had the strength to rise up against their own internal weakness in service to Christ.
St Thomas is known as ‘doubting Thomas’ due to his initial unwillingness to believe the other apostles that Christ had risen from the dead.
Thomas said: “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe” (John 20: 25).
When he saw the risen Lord, he was immediately humbled and professed Jesus Christ’s divine nature, confessing him as: “My Lord and My God”.
But Christ’s message of inclusivity and forgiveness uses Thomas’ doubt to inspire and challenge not only the apostle himself but the faithful with a somewhat sceptical nature for many generations to come. Jesus promised: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” (John 20:29)
According to tradition, St Thomas went to Kerala, India. He was martyred in 72 AD. His service to the country is demonstrated in the Christian presence still there to this day.
ACN reaching out to the poorest of the poor in India
Aid to the Church in Need is helping the poorest of the poor in the country where St Thomas first preached the Faith – India.
With support for the pastoral programme of the Dalit Mission – Dalits used to be known by the derogatory term “Untouchables” – at St Thomas Church Babakutti in Raigarh Diocese.
St Thomas’ humility greater than his scepticism after seeing Christ’s wounds
This Advent, the faithful will draw strength from Pope Benedict XVI’s writings on the value of St Thomas’s life – how his humility in service to Christ was greater than his scepticism.
The example of St Thomas is a comfort in our insecurity, showing us that doubt can lead to an outcome brighter than any uncertainty, and encourages us to persevere along our journey, despite the difficulties. The saint’s life serves as a sign that “confirm[s] Jesus’ identity [is] now above all his wounds, in which he reveals to us how much he loved us.”
Lord Jesus Christ, incarnate God,
who deigned to come among us in human flesh,
a man like us in all things – excepting only sin,
who sent your apostle St Thomas to the world as a witness to you:
Grant that, when you come to us in Mass,
in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar,
our prayer may be that of St Thomas,
and, without doubt, each of us may confess you as “My Lord and my God.”
(Inspired by a prayer from the website of St Thomas the Apostle Church, Oxford, Connecticut, USA)
All biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version (Catholic Edition).