3 Jul 2015
Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle
It’s easy to criticize St. Thomas as being the “doubting Thomas,” slow to believe and even mistrustful of his fellow Apostles. And yet, as St. Paul writes to the Ephesians, he speaks a universal truth which can’t be overlooked in Thomas’ case. The truth, as Paul puts it, is that the Church is “being built.” It’s not a finished product, and it won’t be a finished product until the Second Coming.
The Church is always growing in faith; even the Apostles, the foundation of the Church, had to grow in their faith. They each had their moments of doubt or, at least, confusion. Even the big one—St. Peter—got cold feet when it came down to it. And so, why should we expect to live our Christian faith with clear sailing?
Our failures, our sins, our occasional doubts don’t necessarily mean we’re on the wrong track. After all, we’re in the process of “being built” into the Church; we’re not there yet. And as long as we really want to be “fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God”—if that’s what we really want to be—then there will be bumps along the way.
Like anybody who strives to achieve anything, there’s going to be some growing pains. Any athlete knows that. Any musician who’s practiced for years knows that. Any parent who’s tried to figure out how to raise kids knows that. When we’re trying to become something worthwhile, there are going to be moments of failure, learning, and growth.
Jesus didn’t criticize Thomas for his doubt. And neither did the other Apostles. Instead, they saw—and were even glad, perhaps to see—their brother Thomas growing in his faith. And so, while we don’t want to get comfortable in our sins and failings, we also—more importantly—don’t want to be so ashamed of our sins and failings that we stay away from God.
Instead, we can see our mistakes as an occasion to learn and to grow. That’s just a basic lesson of life, and here we see it playing out in the life of St. Thomas. We’re always becoming more faithful followers of Christ. And as long as we keep moving forward toward Christ in spite of our sins and mistakes, we’ll get there. The Church will come to be in spite of our failings; as long as we keep looking to Jesus with those words of faith in our hearts: “My Lord and my God.”