On the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle

Saints like St. Thomas the Apostle, separated from us by 2000 years of time and minimal in their biblical documentation, can often become a bit abstract in our minds. Most people can recognize the name “Thomas” and recall, “Oh, yes, the doubter,” but few can actually account for how he got the title “St.” placed before his name. Much less can they see any real depth of applicability in his story, besides the obvious “Don’t doubt in Jesus.”

Perhaps, however, in the Gospel of John, when Jesus says to Thomas, “Put out your hand, and place it in my side,” He is offering Thomas a directive that years of meditation could not exhaust. Place your hand in the wound in My side? In the very wound inflicted by a lance, and from which streams of blood and water flowed? In the very puncture of My beating heart, which loved you enough to die for you? Even though you had not the trust to take both My own and My apostles’ word for it that I was truly alive? Thomas’s need for continuing proof, despite all that he had already seen, is at one time or another an experience we all share, but Jesus’ merciful response—to enter the Upper Room through a locked door and invite him to touch His wounds anyway—belongs to us just as much. He extends to all of us this inexhaustible invitation to forever share in all His heart’s secrets—His joys and pains, His love and His sorrow.

As for how Thomas did get the “St.” before his name, traditional accounts say that he traveled as far as India in response to Jesus’ instruction to teach all nations, and that in the end, he met his martyrdom by being pierced through with a lance. For one who was given the privilege to touch the pierced heart of Jesus Himself, this act of accepting a lance through his own heart was the ultimate response. And it is the response we must make (day-to-day and probably in less dramatic ways than Thomas did, but make it we must nonetheless), if we are one day to have the title “St.” placed before our own names.

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