Don’t Envy St. Thomas His Day

Don’t Envy St. Thomas His Day April 16, 2023

I was asked what I would have preached on if I had been called upon to preach this morning, the Sunday after Easter in the Western calendar (and this year Easter Sunday itself for the Eastern Orthodox). My answer was that I would emphasize that Thomas’ experience was not about believing without evidence, the inappropriateness of doubt, or having an experience that then precludes doubt and uncertainty. The story in the Gospel of Matthew set at a mountain in Galilee (itself raising questions when brought up today, since it has the initial resurrection appearances taking place in a different context and location than the Gospel of John) mentions that they worshiped when they saw Jesus, “yet some doubted.” Even being there to see the risen Jesus in whatever form that took for the apostles did not preclude doubt. Yet clearly these individuals had a powerful experience that changed their lives in such a way that they had something personal and we might even say “tangible,” which they carried with them and the impact of which on them made an impression on others.

Then I was asked as a follow up question what I would say to those who grew up in church and have never had the dramatic life-changing experience that some have. My reply was that I would note how Thomas gets a day close to Easter because he missed out on the initial experience and so had something dramatic happen to him later. Bartholomew doesn’t get a day dedicated to him at Easter. He was just there among the Twelve (or should I say Eleven, or rather Ten?) on Easter Sunday. He had the standard default experience and gets lumped with the others. He could easily feel slighted, Thomas getting something special that made his name famous.

Thomas, however, could easily have envied Bartholomew, Andrew, Philip, and the others. Things unfolded in the “standard” manner for them. Thomas would always be remembered as different, and not necessarily in a good way.

The key point I’d make in either sermon if I preached it is that it is always appropriate, when seeking after the infinite God, to seek a deeper experience. That experience isn’t always dramatic, and the dramatic turnaround usually means, from the perspective of the one who has it, that they were going in the wrong direction prior to that. It isn’t something to be envied, and while those who have them (as I have) benefit in ways, there is a benefit to being brought up and nurtured in a faith that remains with you throughout your life and which you never feel compelled to cast aside or convert from. Those who are mature beyond their years have often struggled more and earlier than those who lack the same skills. There are advantages that come with hardships, but they aren’t to be envied.

Ultimately faith in the Bible is not about assent to propositions, much less assenting without adequate reason. That is a terrible and extremely dangerous distortion of faith. Faith in the Bible is primarily trust, and then in addition faithfulness. Those who have some tangible experience that sustains their trust have a blessing. Yet often something comes along that challenges that experience and shakes the trust right along with it.

Hence what Jesus said to Thomas, here broadened out beyond just seeing. Blessed are those who can trust and who remain faithful even without the dramatic experience to point to.

I wish a happy Easter to those celebrating it today, a happy Thomas Sunday to those observing it today, and a happy day to all the Bartholomews, Andrews, Philips, and others who are just having another day.

"I love internet tough guys who are so sure that their powerful comments are so ..."

Chevy’s Epic “Non-Woke” Ad?
"I have a different opinion. Slave-owners throughout history have justified the evils of slavery (and ..."

God’s Ideal for Human Flourishing
"I read something by Jesus misses his that bothered me could I please talk to ..."

Discovering New Music: From Record Stores ..."
"Well can I have your email I want to ask you something that bothered me ..."

Discovering New Music: From Record Stores ..."

Browse Our Archives