Doubting Thomas

"Prefer nothing to the love of Christ"

Diocese of St. Benedict – Old Catholic Church

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to 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 into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

From the Gospel of John (20)

We’ve all heard the comment, “I won’t believe it until I see it.” Maybe you’ve even said that yourself as I have. But maybe there’s something really wrong with this sort of thinking. Let’s explore this comment, “I won’t see it until I believe it.”

Many years ago, I lived in a quaint German town in Northern Michigan:  Gaylord. It was known as “the Alpine Village.” And back in those days the entire downtown area was dressed in a motif the resembled a Bavarian village. And in the winter season, well, if you didn’t know better you actually thought you were in one.

Gaylord was situated at the 45th parallel which meant we lived half way between the North Pole and the Equator.  The average snowfall back then was about 200 inches per year. So, in the winter months, snow was a way of life. After I had lived there for several years, finding myself stranded many times in snow that was 2-3 feet deep, I decided to look around for what I called a “high clearance vehicle.” I stopped in at the local car dealer and the salesman showed me a Suburban. Now, back in those days, no one called them SUVs and quite frankly, I didn’t really know about them. Oh, I might have noticed one or two on the road, but I was really not conscious of their existence….until that day. The salesman, being the good salesman that he was said, “Ed, there’s a lot of people in Gaylord who own this vehicle.” I honestly thought that Gene was handing me a sales pitch.

Not so!  I walked out of the salesroom that day and much to my surprised, there were Suburbans all over the place. My God, there’s another one…and there…look!  Another one. How could this be?  How could I have missed all of these Suburbans that are clearly all around town, just like Gene had said?  I think I was like St. Thomas; I wouldn’t believe it until I’d see it, but I didn’t even know enough to look for it!

At the end of this Gospel lesson Jesus appears to St. Thomas, St. Thomas pokes his finger in Jesus’ wounds and drops to his knees, bows his head and says to Jesus, “My Lord and my God.”  Jesus smiles and assures him he’s OK and then adds, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

If we don’t believe that God is in our world today, we’ll miss him like I missed the Suburbans that passed by me each day of my life.

Here’s something for you to ponder and hopefully share with each other here on this blog:

  • Have you ever had a “Suburban” experience like mine?
  • Has there been any time in your life you were a Doubting Thomas, insisting upon seeing it before you’ll believe it?
  • Has there been any time in your life where you chose to believe and then, suddenly out of nowhere, your belief produced the truth of your hidden reality?  Please share this with us if you have a life experience of this.
  • Is there any part of your life right now, that you think you need to believe first, before you’ll see it?

In Christ’s love and service,

Bishop-elect +Ed


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12 Responses to Doubting Thomas

  1. Great doubt, great faith and great determination are what produces a great faith.

  2. Barbara says:

    Obviously Jesus had a reason to allow Thomas to be doubtful. I don’t know why nor will I try to guess why. The fact is Thomas doubted the apostles “saw” the risen Jesus. It does not say that he doubted the Resurrection. So that is why he says he would believe he was back on earth talking to them when he saw with his own eyes and hands as they did. How do we know that the other 11 would not have doubted Thomas if he claimed that Jesus came to him after the Resurrection?

    I have doubts every day about the things I should do for people, or not do. Who to allow inside of me that day, or should anyone be allowed in. Of course I always have love in my heart for people but that is different. I see little things every day that let me know that God is there working for others as well as for me. There are no specifics but when there is a need and no answer in sight and suddenly there is an answer to that need, I believe. But I think it was because I believed in Him to begin with that I saw that need being met.

    Most of my doubts are about myself… they always have been. But I trust and have faith that God will continue to help me with that doubt, and help me keep the faith when I have doubts about other things.

  3. Reflecting further on the COURAGE of Thomas and the action of doubt within the context of our faith, responding to Deacon Greg’s Sunday homily sent to us last night, it continues to unfold about the natural, perhaps God-intended, tension between faith and doubt…. Likely we will talk about this further in the homily today, depending in the Spirit, asking those present to search their own experience. Experience IS a most fruitful teacher.
    I carry concern at times, for the weight that many Christians feel about doubt and experiencing it. We have nailed Thomas to his own cross, for expressing doubt, and as is so human, focused on “how could he doubt, after all…. ” and the reality is that we do, doubt; the dark night of the soul, is related to doubt and persistence in the face of it. In the “evidence of things yet unseen” is doubt. It’s gotten a bad Christian “rap” however… Perhaps there is such a thing as closed, and open, doubt?

    Open it would be as you speak here, more the Christian word is humility. Doubt has such a visceral reverberation, however… We KNOW doubt. Foxhole prayers. Yet it seems to be an opening that is not accidental in God’s hands, TO him… Perhaps the question is more what do we do with it, actively, beyond censuring it as a failure to sufficiently believe.

    I have come to personally welcome doubt as a strengthener to my faith, and as the weight I must carry in times of unbalance that creates longing and a desire for deeper connection, a desire which unfailingly, God honors. I am humbled into openness, by my own doubt when it arises. I do not doubt the reality of the Living God, it is more grasping for his presence, and although I have never come to exactly enjoy it while I am in it I value it.

    In the contemplative tradition, doubt is like leavening to bread, with the faith serving as the warmth that makes it rise. Gently. Witness to the powerful shift in Thomas, because he was looking for evidence, when it came he was deeply hungry for it, in his courage to doubt.

    How do you experience the natural interplay and tension found in the flow, as a contemplative tradition of Zen frames it, between Great Faith, Great Doubt, and Great Determination as it relates to your own walk with Jesus? Does it bear fruit? How does that happen… and does it bear the fruit of doubt, or of faith, or of determination. Or all three inseparably? And what makes the difference?

  4. “Oh Ye of Little Faith – Doubting Thomas”

    This was originally published in Our Sunday Visitor as a reflection upon the readings for the Octave of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday), liturgical cycle B Acts 4: 32-45; Ps 118:2-24; I Jn 5:1-6; Jn 20:19-31). It is reproduced here with the permission of the author.

  5. Doubt is one thing that I believe is woven into faith… doubt that pushes us to reach, and to believe, to pray as though God IS present and that he IS who he says he is. Doubt in my life has been the opportunity to SEE because I am looking, and I am looking to find and to see the presence of God. Thomas I see in this way… he looked with the intention of seeing his Lord, and that desire was granted in full.

    Does this happen today, I think it does. When I look, believing it until I see it, then I see it because my eyes are open and looking. I am searching my life for an experience as striking as the Suburban, but it has been more subtle for me. At the point of deep conversion I became willing to ask, “Where is God in this” related to every life experience, where are you Jesus… and all I can say is that when I LOOK with desire to find, when I ASK Him to show himself, when I KNOW that he will be revealed in what is good inside of the darkness, when I UNDERSTAND that God reveals himself after not before I become open to see… then there is never a time when my doubtful response, “Where are you in this, Lord” fails to bring him into view.

    Are we asked to believe without seeing? Yes. Waiting for God to prove his existence has never borne fruit for me… I have needed to take the step into the river of doubt first. When I did that fully, the immensity of his presence dropped me into a conversion so broad and deep that my life no longer resembled itself. So… maybe that is just how our Lord works, believe in me, and then you will see, the scales will fall, the curtain will be opened, eyes to see and ears to hear.. and if this is true, then it simply will not ever work another way than that. No matter, God does it in his wisdom, not ours… thankfully. Hang in there John… doubt can create faith, sent in the right direction. Blessings…

  6. John, the program of recovery defines “insanity” as “Do the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time.” Maybe you might want to consider trying something different this time….like what I wrote about; “You won’t see it until you believe it.” Love ya John 🙂

  7. John S says:

    This has always been my problem, an apostle, a disciple of Jesus, requested proof of the resurrection..and received it. This was also a man who knew him personally and presumably witnessed many miracles performed by him too. Yet we are asked to believe with no proof whatsoever. Makes no sense.

  8. I always felt that St. Thomas (a.k.a. Didymus and nick-named “The Twin”) got a bum rap as the so-called “Doubting Thomas.” Few remember that he was the ONE AND ONLY APOSTLE to say to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go with Him too (back to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday) that we may die with Him — [so that we may rise up with Him.]” (John 11:16.) Courageous Thomas, as I prefer to call him, was not afraid to stand up against those “sons of satan” (John 8:44.) as Jesus called those Jews who were out to kill The Messiah for “blasphemy”: (The corrupt Temple leaders, the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes, etc.)

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