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By FR ALFONSE NAZZARO
The other disciples said to [Thomas], "We have seen the Lord." But Thomas 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."
Typically, no one wants to be eternally remembered for their moments of weakness or their failures. For some strange reason, though, the Church wishes to commemorate the memory of St. Thomas, the Apostle, with this pointedly embarrassing Gospel passage.
Regardless of the constant pain this memory may have caused Thomas during his lifetime, there is something profound and sublime in all of it.
Christ does not reveal himself as the perfect "10" model after his crucifixion. He didn't rise from the dead all buff and beautiful. He appeared to His disciples in a way they could recognize Him and, more importantly, realize what He had done for them. Do you see these five wounds? You are worth every single one of them.
Badge of honor. Do I consider my suffering for the Lord as a badge of honor? I should, and God help me if I don't.
Scars and wounds and sweat and tears for the Lord (and neighbor) are natural medals pinned in our skin that represent fidelity, bravery, honor and dignity to our God and King. They are something to be proud of.
As I write this meditation, I am reminded of King Henry V's monologue on the Feast day of St. Crispian.
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more, methinks, would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'...
Yes, we are living in times of turmoil and confusion. Christians and other minorities are being persecuted at home and abroad. The family is divided. The church is divided. The nation is divided. Political rhetoric is becoming less and less polite. The world, especially in the Middle East is being slowly, yet gradually, seduced by evil and cruel men and women.
Are these the end times? No, they are not. They are the beginning of a rebirth, a rebirth as sudden as that of St. Thomas' change of heart - from resentment and denial to complete and unapologetic obedience to the risen Lord.
How did Thomas get there? From Christ's scars, that's how. It wasn't just the Lord's presence. It was the Lord's appearance: "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side..."
It was the Lord's battle and love scars that tipped Thomas' heart and won the day! As Peter once wrote: "By His scars we have been healed" (1Pt 2:24).
He could have added: By His scars He won our hearts.