When Thomas touches Jesus’ body, he believes—but Jesus isn’t too impressed with this expression of faith. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe!” Jesus must have been envisioning us—all of the future believers who might need courage and imagination to believe, centuries later.
Do we think we’re blessed, lucky, or happy to be encountering Jesus in a different way from the apostles? Probably not. If anything, we may feel as if we’re quite distant—detached, even—from the bold, alive spirit that filled Jesus. His followers were thrilled, amazed, excited to be close to him. But it is clearly more of a challenge for us.
There is no doubt that the real core of faith comes down to us from those fervent believers who were closest to Jesus Christ. We Catholics are linked to THAT community of believers, who passed eyewitness accounts down through history.
We may not have perfect faith—but our questions and doubts, Jesus is saying, are not to be feared. It takes only a mustard seed of faith. Thomas isn’t rejected because of his doubt; but he IS being asked to believe in a different way, a more adult way, that doesn’t require hanging on to the physical.
Here is the crux of it all: we must believe in Jesus without demanding physical proof—but we must prove our faith by getting very physical about it. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you…” Jesus sends us into a world that is desperate to be touched—touched with kindness, with compassion, love, patience, generosity. Mother Teresa with the dying, Father Damian with the lepers, St. Francis with the poor—they all said that to touch the poor and hold the sick, they first had to believe it was Jesus himself they were touching.
Go in peace to love and serve our God!