By Jose Antonio Pagola
The modern person has learned to doubt. It is characteristic of the modern spirit to question everything in order to progress in scientific knowledge. In this climate the faith is often discredited. The human being goes through life full of uncertainties and doubts.
For that reason, we have a difficulty with the reaction of Thomas when the other disciples tell him that in his absence they have had a surprising experience: “We have seen the Lord”. Thomas could be a person of our own day. His reply is clear: “If I do not see him…I do not believe”.
His attitude is understandable. Thomas does not say that his companions are lying or that they are deceived. He only affirms that their testimony is not enough for him to adhere to their faith. He needs to live his own experience. And Jesus will not reproach him for that.
Thomas has been able to express his doubts within a group of disciples. Apparently they have not taken scandal. They have not thrown him out of the group. They had not believed the women when they said to them that they had seen the risen Jesus. The episode of Thomas permits a glimpse of the long walk the group of disciples had to take to finally arrive at belief in the risen Christ.
Christian communities of our day should be spaces for dialogue where we can honestly share the doubts, questions and seeking of today’s believers. Not all of us live in our interior the same experience. In order to grow in the faith we need stimulus and dialogue with others who share our disquiet.
But nothing can replace the experience of a personal contact with Christ in the depths of one’s own conscience. According to what the Gospel says, after eight days Jesus makes himself present once again. He does not criticise Thomas for his doubts. His resistance to believing reveals his honesty. Jesus shows him his wounds.
They are not proofs of the resurrection. Rather they are signs of his love and generousity unto death. For that reason he invites him to go deeper into his doubts with every confidence: “Don’t be unbelieving, but believing”. Thomas renounces his need for verification. He no longer needs proofs. He knows only that Jesus loves him and invites him to trust: “My Lord and my God”.
Someday we will discover that many of our doubts, lived in a healthy way, without losing contact with Jesus and the community, can save us from a superficial faith which is content with repeating formulas. They can stimulate us to grow in love and in trust in Jesus, the mystery of God incarnate which is the nucleus of our faith.