He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By His wounds, we are healed (1 Peter 2:24).
Thomas’ experience with Jesus today is powerful. And, I would argue this scene is more relevant to each of us today than we might initially believe. Thomas hears from the others, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ And yet, he says, ‘Unless I see [his wounds] I will not believe…’
This scene between Thomas and the other disciples who have seen Jesus, begs the question, “what is the reason for Thomas’ unbelief?” Does Thomas not believe that Jesus has the power to raise to life what was once dead? I don’t think so… I do not think that Thomas is struggling to believe in Jesus’ power. Remember, he is a witness of Jesus’ many signs. Thomas himself has seen Jesus heal the blind, cure the sick, and even raise the dead to new life (Lazarus!).
So, what is behind Thomas’ unbelief? I think what underlies Thomas’ struggle in our Gospel this weekend is that Thomas has become despondent, dejected, and has lost grip on the hope he once had when Christ “was alive.” Thomas is struggling with abandonment. He hasn’t seen Christ Risen yet so he doesn’t understand why he died a brutal death. He is also struggling with personal abandonment. Why has Christ revealed himself to you? And why has Christ remained hidden from me…?” Thomas didn’t necessarily lose faith in Christ’s power… Instead, Thomas has been so wounded by the loss of Jesus, the one he believed to be the savior that he can no longer see rightly. Thomas is holding on to his despondence, dejection and melancholy.
Here’s a question for all of us to meditate on this week, am I really that different from Thomas? Haven’t we all experienced what Thomas is going through? This is what Thomas’ struggle looks like today. Think back to a time when you were struggling. When you were struggling to hold on to hope and feeling as if God no longer cares. And at that moment, a close friend shares. You want to be happy for your friend, but unfortunately, all you think is this: “Lord, you will reveal yourself to my friends, but remain hidden from me… why?”
In these situations, I think sometimes we can find ourselves feeling like Thomas… “If Jesus really suffered and died for us why don’t I see his presence in my life?” And looking at our friend we say, “you don’t understand, I’m a sinful person, Christ couldn’t possibly love me.” After our friends try to convince us even more of how much God does indeed love us, we find ourselves asking those same questions in our hearts… “Why has Christ revealed himself to you and yet remained hidden from me?” And in our own spiritual despondence and dejection, we make the same promise as Thomas… “I will not believe until Christ shows me himself. I will not believe until Christ proves his love for me until he shows me his wounds…”
And by his wounds, you are healed. This is where Thomas receives healing from his despondence. Christ says, “Thomas”, and I don’t think Christ says this with a disappointed tone, but rather wants to show Thomas how much he, in fact, loves him. “Thomas,” Jesus says, “put your hands on my wounds.” And so he does, and Thomas overwhelmed by God’s love and goodness says, “My Lord and My God!”
In the seminary, we had the great privilege of learning from many holy priests. One of them encouraged the seminarians and said, “Brothers, do not be afraid to touch the wounds of Christ!” Reach out like Thomas, and place your sinfulness into the wounds of Christ. Let Christ heal you by his wounds!
My friends, the good news for us this weekend is a gift of hope. The wounds of Christ are the final sign in the Gospel of John. Christ’s wounds signify for us his divinity. Here is the God-man, Jesus, who died in his humanity, and yet, through the power of his divinity is alive and stands among us. Jesus’ wounds show us God’s desire to love, to save, and to heal. May allow Christ’s wounds to heal our doubts and proclaim that Jesus is “Our Lord and Our God.” By Christ’s wounds, we are healed.
In Christ’s Love and Friendship,