April 7, 2013: 2nd Sunday of Easter
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
Thomas, 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.” Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” (John 20:19-31)
We often hear this Gospel as a reproach to “Doubting Thomas.” Yet because of his questioning we are blessed with an extra piece of strong evidence for the Resurrection. Perhaps “Questioning Thomas” or “Critical Thinking Thomas” is a fairer description—why wouldn’t he want to check the facts and see the evidence for such a tremendous event?
Note that Thomas was present in that next gathering of the disciples, indicating that the disciples still considered him as part of the community. This suggests that he was not smart-alecky or rude when he said he needed evidence. Notice, too, how Jesus accepts Thomas’s need for evidence, even allowing him to touch those recent, terrible wounds.
Sometimes people make claims that are rather extreme, whether in a political speech, a comment about another person, even a math problem! In such a case, let us use our critical thinking skills–being brave enough to ask for the evidence, but also gentle enough that the person feels respected. And if someone asks for proof of something we say, let us welcome the questioner—let us listen as well as respond—knowing that we have nothing to fear from the truth.