Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle
Today, July 3, is the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, whose name derives from a Hebrew root that means “paired, twin”. In fact, John’s Gospel several times calls him “Dydimus”, a Greek nickname for “twin”. The reason for this nickname is uncertain. St. Thomas was a Jew, and most likely a Galilæan who happily followed Jesus as one of the twelve apostles.
St. Thomas is known for three episodes in John’s gospel, in which he appears as an individual. In the first, “Thomas who is called the twin, said, ‘Let us also go [to Lazarus’ house] that we may die with him’.” (11:16)
In the second, at the Last Supper, St. Thomas said to [Jesus], ‘Lord, we do not know where we are going. How can we know the way?’ “Jesus replied that He is the way, the truth, and the life (14: 5-6).
In the third, one of the best known episodes in the gospels, “doubting Thomas”, hiding with the other disciples in a locked house, one of the twelve” was not with them [when Jesus came to show them His wounds and thus convince them of the truth of the resurrection.] So, the other disciples told 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 in His side, I will not believe.’ A week later His disciples were shut again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and … said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt, but believe.’ Thomas answered Him, ‘My Lord and my God.’ ” (20: 24a – 8)
Thomas cried out and recognized Jesus as God and he believed and experienced great joy. He sought the truth and found it in Jesus Christ. The disciple who questions and then doubts without the evidence of his senses becomes the only one to make a full confession of faith in Christ’s divinity.
Church tradition supports the idea that St. Thomas went to preach first in Syria and Persia, then went on to Western India, from where also he finally reached Southern India. Around 72 a.d., he died a martyr’s death near Madras, India.
Saint Thomas is the patron of architects, builders, carpenters, masons, geometricians, theologians, surveyors, blind people (due to his occasional spiritual blindness), people in doubt, India and Pakistan.
The story of St. Thomas teaches us an important lesson and that is that no matter how weak we feel or how difficult it is for us to believe at times, we need to persevere. Jesus will always be there to encourage us on our spiritual journey with His grace to strengthen us in our spiritual blindness. Through the sacraments, he provides all the graces we need to walk with Him in faith.
O Glorious Saint Thomas, your grief for Jesus was such that it would not let you believe He had risen unless you actually saw Him and touched His wounds. But your love for Jesus was equally great and it led you to give up your life for Him. Pray for us that we may grieve for our sins which were the cause of Christ’s sufferings. Help us to give ourselves in His service and so earn the title of “blessed” which Jesus applied to those who would believe in Him without seeing Him.