Today’s gospel for the Feast of Saint Thomas, Apostle, always hits me across the head like a two by four. In my personal reading of the near climax of John’s gospel, I envision myself as Thomas.
My friends have had the good fortune of seeing the risen Christ. I’m Thomas, probably off doing something very good and worthwhile–busy no doubt–and so I miss out. When I come home and hear what happens, I don’t rejoice at my friends’ good fortune. Rather, I cross my arms across my chest, pout a bit and say I won’t believe until I see (and feel) for myself.
We know from the end of St. Thomas’ story that he overcame his reluctance when he was blessed to physically interact with Jesus. His faith and conviction were strong enough to carry him to India and beyond to preach the gospel. He died a martyr’s death for his faith.
Perhaps of most relevance to us are the words he gave us, the ones we use every time we receive Christ truly present in the Eucharist:
“My Lord and my God!”
Jesus spoke words to Thomas that linger in my heart when I pray over them:
“Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
But I realize every day that I do have the chance to see Christ. I can see and serve him by better caring for my family. His face is present to me in the faces of the poor and needy in my community–the ones I drive past with my eyes cast down. And most of all, Christ is truly present to me in the Eucharist, that most of holy of sacrifices that I engage in all too frequently without the proper sense of wonder and awe.
Pope Francis has called us to pray with him for two quite relevant personal intentions during this month of July:
Universal: That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.
As I pray these intentions this month and celebrate our independence this weekend, I’ll be endeavoring to overcome my doubt and to recognize my Lord and my God truly present around me every day.
A question for you: How to do “see” Christ in our world? What helps you to believe amidst your own disbelief?