As part of my preparation for Easter this year I studied Raymond Brown’s chapter in the book THE VIRGINAL CONCEPTION & BODILY RESURRECTION OF JESUS. On page 106 in a footnote I read this:
“I suggest that this second appearance may be the evangelists’ dramatization in which Thomas serves to personify an attitude. The other Gospels mention fright or disbelief when Jesus appears, but John transferred this doubt to a separate episode and personified it in Thomas. Such free dramatization is characteristic of the Fourth Gospel.” This interpretation gives further witness to “Another spiritual tradition about Thomas the Twin is that you and I are the Twin.” To be sure “fright” and “disbelief” are part of our life experience.
Thomas the Twin dominates today’s Gospel.In popular use, hardly anyone named Thomas has not been dubbed, “doubting Thomas” at some time in his life.But it is interesting that not many people have asked the question, “who is the other twin?”
Speculation on this subject is interesting.Some have hazarded that Judas was his twin.Since Judas betrayed Jesus and went and hanged himself (evidently in despair), his relation to Thomas would have been suppressed.Others have proposed that Mary Magdalene is his twin.Mary as the first proclaimer of the Resurrection has her own difficulties in getting through to the other Apostles.Some have even hazarded that Jesus is Thomas’ twin.Now to Catholics that is unthinkable, but not to those who take the references to the brothers and sisters of Jesus as literal.
It would seem that Thomas reaction to the death of Jesus is to go off by himself alone to deal with this loss.But from the other information that we have from the Gospels about Thomas it would also seem that he was re-examining how he could have missed in his judgement about Jesus.Wasn’t Jesus to be the Messiah, the restorer of the Kingdom of Israel?How could this Jesus end up killed on a cross?Thomas probably thought that Jesus would tie all his searching and synthesizing together.Now Jesus has died ignominiously on a cross.It seems he needed time apart to process his thoughts, to regroup.If Thomas was an introvert he would process things alone on his inside before talking with others.His refined observation skills had failed him.He was re-examining past events.He was dealing with the darkness of doubt.
Some years back in a dialogue homily I posed the question:“Why do you think Thomas was not with the other disciples?”A little boy of about 12, put up his hand, “because he couldn’t get off work.”It does make you think.
When Thomas does rejoin the group (a week later) he is presented with the information that they have seen the Lord.He thinks that this must be some kind of delusional thinking.He must have his own personal proof, put his finger in the wounds of his hand and his hand into Jesus’ side.I think that it must have been a tense week: the ten holding, “we have seen the Lord,” in one part of the room and in another part Thomas “I don’t believe.”
Jesus comes to Thomas.Jesus make his approach to Thomas particular to this man.There is nothing of the “don’t touch me” words directed to Mary Magdalene.In fact Jesus tells Thomas, just the opposite, come and touch.
Thomas is overwhelmed and bursts forth his own profession of faith, “My Lord and My God.”This Thomas who was not easily convinced, now was convinced. ( I find myself wondering if he did put his finger in the hand and his hand in Jesus’ side.I’ve solicited different responses to this question and the answers are quite differing and interesting.Particularly why people think what they think.)Surely his faith must have enriched the others.Thomas was one of those types who gathers lots of information (I personally identify here with Thomas), he was always perceiving and analyzing things, even things that others missed.Doubting Thomas becomes believing Thomas and inspires the others to greater depth of belief.
Tradition tells us that Thomas was the apostle to India.Would this not make sense, that he who was the most difficult to convince, once convinced would have the most impulse and stamina and drive to carry the news the farthest?
Another spiritual tradition about Thomas the Twin is that you and I are the Twin.
Has Jesus come to you in a particular way?Have you been called to put your personality, your history, your gifts at the service of the Jesus in a particular way?Is Jesus perhaps speaking to you today, to put some good, which has laid dormant inside you, into action for Jesus?Can you say with Thomas, “My Lord and My God.”“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
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