“Seeing isn’t believing…Believing is seeing”
How many remember this wonderful quote from the little elf Judy in “The Santa Clause” or from Charlie to Miss Newman in “The Santa Clause 2”? The message in that quote meant just because you can’t see something, then that isn’t proof that it doesn’t exist.
In today’s gospel, we have Thomas, known as “Didymus” refusing to believe in the Risen Lord because he wasn’t present when Jesus appeared through locked doors on the first day of the week. The apostles were grieving Jesus’ death and were in fear of their lives as followers of Jesus, when suddenly Jesus “appeared in their midst” and said to them “Peace be with you”. Now to be fair, Jesus showed they his hands and his side before filling them with the Holy Spirit, and commissioning them to go out, forgive sins, and preach the gospel. When the apostles tell Thomas what has happened he says:
“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”
This is how Thomas became known as “Doubting Thomas” – a label that lives on today. Thomas doesn’t really get a fair shake here as the other apostles had the benefit of seeing Jesus’ hands and his side in the first appearance. But when Jesus appears a second time when Thomas is present, he tells Thomas:
“Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe” to which Thomas responds “My Lord, My God”. Jesus then asks him ““Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
In today’s homily, Father Joe Schlafer from St. John Nepomucene remarked that Thomas should not just be remembered for his lack of trust in believing in the Risen Lord, but Thomas has been a key player in the Gospel of John. First in convincing the Apostles to go with Jesus to Judea after Lazarus’ death, and after some Jews had attempted to stone Jesus stating “Let us also go, that we may die with him”. Thomas is also responsible for the beautiful response we have today – “My Lord, My God’ when we receive the Eucharist, so remembering Thomas only as “Doubting Thomas” really isn’t fair.
Let’s fast forward to today. None of us were around to see the Risen Lord appear. If we had the same mindset that Thomas had originally, we might never believe, but we have the benefit of seeing the Risen Lord through God’s love of ourselves, and of others we come across in our day to day existence. We see Jesus in the acts of love and charity towards each other. This is what makes us believe. Do we have our days where we are “Doubting Thomas”? Yes, absolutely. It is human nature to have questions and doubts especially when our emotions sometimes make it difficult to see what we believe, but “believing is also seeing” when we believe and trust in Jesus and then see his love poured out by other believers to those that are suffering or in need. In taking care of each other, and attending to each other’s needs, the Risen Lord is present and visible to us even today. So while we may not have had the benefit to be present in the room when Jesus appeared and showed his nail marks and his side, we do get to “see” the Risen Lord by living the gospel and in sharing Jesus’s love. So let’s give Thomas a break here for his unbelief, but there are signs everywhere of Jesus’ presence in the midst of our day to day lives that proves “believing is seeing”.