Thomas would have none of it. “Raised from the dead? You’re out of your minds!” The skeptic would not be taken in by ‘fake news.’ These guys have been overdosing on CNN, or worse, believing Breitbart! It was just too good to be true. “The Master is dead and let me continue my grieving for the one who truly touched my heart and changed my life.” And then it happened. The Risen Lord appeared again and this time Thomas was with them. The Lord knowing his propensity toward incredulity summoned him to come forward. "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." And Thomas response was one of simple worship, “My Lord and my God.” To which Jesus responded, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed."
Friends, this all too familiar Gospel that is always proclaimed on the Sunday after Easter, can easily tempt the believer to conclude that doubt and questioning of faith is somehow beneath the real Christian. The faithful Christian never doubts. The orthodox Christian never questions. However, to read this meaning into the Gospel would be a disservice to nearly two millennia of theological reflection that is always, as St. Anselm so beautifully stated, “Faith seeking understanding.”
Because we are who we are as human beings, gifted with the ability to ponder and reflect, to wrestle with the great questions in life and particularly, the questions of faith, is a natural and necessary part of bringing us to insight, belief and worship.
Part of the complexity of the interrelationship between faith and doubt has been inevitably influenced by our friends who brought us 18th century Enlightenment. Emerging out of this period was the near infallible belief that the only verifiable truth that we can know comes through science. Exalting the empirical was thought to be the death of God and the spirit.
But, is that really the case? How do we put the devoted love of friends for 50 years under a microscope? What chemistry is at work that brings a soldier to lay down his or her life for their comrades? And what organic compounds are at work that brings near delirium on seeing one’s beloved on a wedding day?
Truth be told, there are some realities in life that ‘transcend’ the scientific and empirical gaze. Love, mercy, forgiveness, loyalty, empathy, integrity of life are virtues that touch the deepest and most important meanings of human existence. And, it is these realities that more often than not reflect the divine in our lives and in our world. They escape words of explanation. They just are, and elicit a response of wonder, praise and thanks. And Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God.”