Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
We tried to get rid of him. We killed him and then we buried him. But God refused to go away. He came back, like an ugly truth, resurrected and still bearing the signs of his crucifixion.
When we can’t stand the truth we tend to call it ugly. We want to bury it. When the truth hurts, we tend to want to kill it. But truth does not go away; it always seems to come up to the surface; just like the Lord, who rose from the dead.
“Unless I see…” In one way or another, we can all relate to Thomas. He thinks like so many of us do. He has a very contemporary mind. I don’t mean in the sense that he demands proof in everything in order to believe in something. That’s simply an excuse to cover something deeper! What I am referring to is that Thomas suffers from what many contemporaries suffer from: insecurity. And insecurity is a very serious problem. It causes people to lie, to react harshly, aggressively, and even spitefully. Just like modern man makes excuses for everything from atomic bombs and wars to abortion and euthanasia. Insecurity cheapens life like lies cheapen the truth.
…I will not believe.” Why do we turn away from God? Why do we put conditions on the God of love? It’s because we are insecure. Thomas has a very personal problem. He thinks his problem is with one person in particular: Jesus. He doesn’t like what happened. He doesn’t think it was fair that he was left out. We can relate. If there are prizes to give then everyone has to receive one. If all the participants receive a certificate then I better receive a certificate. And if I don’t, “Woe to that person, it would be better if that person had never been born!” But let’s be honest. Does the Lord have a problem or do I have a problem? Do my insecurities get in the way of friendships, teammates and choices? Did the Lord do something wrong? Did my friends do something horrible?
By all accounts, it appears as though Thomas had been absent for just a brief amount of time. Maybe he had gone out to get some supplies for the others. Maybe he volunteered or maybe Peter sent him. Either way, there is one thing for sure: He was not there when the Lord appeared. He was not there to experience the Easter joy! Why? Why? Thomas must have asked this a thousand times: Why did the Lord appear when I was not there? Why did He choose that exact moment to appear to the others but not to me? It must be because He never cared about me. Look at my life. I’ve always been full of doubts and loneliness. When people ask me how I am I can’t seem to say more than, “Not too bad.” I don’t think God ever loved me. In fact, I know He loves the others more than me. He knew that I had gone out for a moment. He knew I wouldn’t be there. He knows everything. Why would he do this to me? Wait a minute…I know what he wants. I know why…I know why. He knows I question everything. This is his way of telling me, “Leave…you don’t belong here with the others. I don’t need you. I don’t want you.” Well, I’m not leaving. I won’t leave and I won’t believe unless I see him for myself.
When the Romans began crucifying people, this type of pain was literally beyond words to describe. Nothing in the language could accurately describe the intense anguish caused during crucifixion. So the Romans invented a new word: Excruciating, which means “from the cross”.
Thomas was surrounded in the upper room with insecurities and people. And if insecurities are like nails, then people (even friends) can be like hammers. Thomas saw himself getting hammered by his friends, especially his best friend, every single day. Eight long excruciating days would pass before Christ appeared again; and every single day of waiting must have felt like a nail going deeper and deeper into Thomas’s skin. Only the Lord could convert his insecurity into His security; only the Lord could take him down from his cross. “Do not be afraid” is an invitation from God to free ourselves from all forms of insecurity. Insecure people cut themselves. Insecure people have eating disorders. Insecure people take drugs. Insecure people, like bullies, make life miserable for others.
This Gospel passage offers much to meditate on. Christ appeared to all the Apostles, but like Thomas, he did not appear to me. Let us rejoice and be glad for Christ says, “Blessed are they who do not see but believe!”
The Lord showed Thomas his hands, feet and side. There were no nails. Let us rejoice and be glad and may we never exchange His security with our insecurity. May Christ’s nails never appear in my flesh! No wonder why the Lord repeats twice to his men, “Peace be with you.”
Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. Today is a reminder that no one knows us, hears us, loves us or cares about us as much as the Lord. This is the truth. Let us trust in the Lord.