Sunday, May 1, 2011

What would happen if today's apostles were as courageous Christ followers as Thomas?

Today’s gospel reading is about Thomas, often referred to as, “doubting Thomas”.  Since all the disciples and apostles doubted until they had a direct resurrection encounter with Jesus, why is only Thomas labeled a “doubter”? 

Scripture indicates Thomas actually exhibited more loyalty, wisdom and courage than the others.  For example, just before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, a feat that would seal his fate, he told his followers they all should return to Judea.  The followers were reluctant and afraid because people tried to kill Jesus there.  Yet Thomas seemed to understand what Jesus faced and courageously said, "Let us also go to die with him" (JN 11:16).

At the Last Supper, Thomas wants to follow Jesus no matter where he goes so he asks, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus told him: “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life” (JN 14:5-6).  This is the most important revelation Jesus makes about himself and Jesus says it directly to Thomas not the disciples as a group.  It also contrasts with Jesus chastising Philip immediately afterwards in JN 14:8-9 for not recognizing Jesus' divinity.

In today’s reading, Thomas is not with the others who fearfully locked themselves in a room.  He’s been out and about, likely continuing his work as a Christ follower, without fear.  Jesus honors Thomas and returns a week later in response to Thomas’ request to see him.  Jesus invites Thomas to probe his wounds but Thomas doesn’t do it.  Instead he says, “My Lord and my God”.  This testament to Jesus' nature contrasts with Philip’s ignorance of Jesus’ divinity.  Thomas knows Jesus is God perhaps because there seems to be a thread of direct personal and spiritual intimacy between Thomas and Jesus.

Interestingly enough, Jesus did not condemn or accuse Thomas.  Neither did the other disciples.  However, if we transplanted Thomas into a modern scenario, current apostles likely would condemn him Orwellian style for improper thought.  Today, those who question like Thomas are condemned.  Others who privately have questions hold their tongues because they are as fearful as the earliest disciples.  Instead of fearing Jewish religious leaders and their groupies though, they fear the Magisterium and its groupies. 

Fr. Roy Bourgeois, who believes God is all-powerful and not contained by Magisterial edicts, likely will be defrocked.  A vast number of other apostles agree with his opinions about God, women and ordination but are too fearful to speak out and support him.  They are locked in their own private room for fear of the Magisterium.  What would happen if today’s apostles were as courageous Christ followers as Thomas? 

(Thanks to biblical scholar, Don P., for the idea.)

No comments:

Post a Comment