13th Tuesday in Ordinary Time
Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle
The Bible is very sparse when it comes to details. I have always been intrigued by the meeting of the Risen Jesus with St Thomas. Jesus tells him to touch Him and to put his hand into his side. And Thomas declared ‘My Lord and my God’ What really transpired as Thomas saw and touched Christ that it could elicit so profound a conviction ‘My Lord and My God’ from a monotheistic Jew. How was what he saw and what he touched related to his declaration of faith? Nothing is said. Which is so typical of the Bible.
For instance, God calls to Abraham and tells him to leave his father’s house. This is the abrupt beginning of Chapter 12 in Genesis. There is no runup to this. It is a sudden bolt of lightning that begins Chapter 12. And for an event that transforms history, it is very lean of details. Where was God when He called Abraham? In heaven? Where was Abraham then? Was it morning? Night? Did Abraham hear a voice? Did he behold a vision? No details at all.
What we know in the case of St Thomas is that he saw and touched and then he believed. He was not caught up into the seventh heaven. He did not leave his body or senses behind. His senses – sight and touch were in play in his coming to faith. There is something stupendous in this – that our senses are not obstacles anymore but actually are channels of belief. The beautiful words in the First Letter of St John echo this – That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.
This is something we should be conscious of. We also have access to Christ, not in some esoteric manner but in very ordinary things. We hear the Word. We assemble for prayer. We are touched by the sacraments. These are not second hand channels or consolation prizes. There is no other secret, esoteric way reserved to a few elite. We are touched by Christ as surely as his disciples touched Him two thousand years ago. Not by emotional highs but as a strengthening of belief. How we do not know. Moreover the ordinary things of daily life bear His imprint if we stay long enough with the ordinary and do not escape the humdrum and humble aspects of our life – Christ is there waiting for us. What we need to ask for is a heart and mind that can see through to the mystery wrapped in the humdrum through this mysterious power in us called faith.