468. Doubting Thomas? Part One: Seeking Truth

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!

Forgive me. This Post is three days late. Just wait till you’re 85 and stay at the Paschal Meal at church till 4:30 in the morning. It was wonderful, and I spent all last  week recovering.

This Post has already grown rather long. Therefore I’m splitting into two shorts parts, thereby saving me from thinking up another Post for this Friday. Clever, eh?


courtesy of OCA

They call him “Doubting Thomas”. Shame! Shame! Shame!

Well, I say “God bless Doubting Thomas”.  I think we should honor him. The world today desperately needs more doubters, more skeptics. The world today is filled with people who believe almost any fool thing they see or hear.

A century ago G.K. Chesterton wrote: ““When a man stops believing in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing. He believes anything.” Today the world is filled with people who seemingly believe in God, or say they do, but nevertheless believe almost anything. What’s the problem? Do they believe in God only superficially? or in the wrong god? or… I don’t know what’s going on.

“Believing Thomas”


Anyway, Thomas doubted for only nine days. Other than that, Thomas believed in His Lord Jesus, very firmly. Saint John, writing his Gospel account, made sure we understood that. He alone recounted the following story:

Some while before Holy Week, Christ told His disciples that Lazarus had died and they would now go to Bethany where Lazarus had lived with his sisters. This was only two miles from Jerusalem. Danger was already in the air. The Priests and Levites were out to get Jesus. What was Thomas’ reaction?  “Thomas …said to the rest of the disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’” John 11:16  He certainly wasn’t Doubting Thomas at that point.

courtesy of National Catholic Register

Now let’s go to that first Pascha night. You know the story well. The disciples were gathered in the upper room. The doors were locked, in fear that what happened to Jesus might happen to them. Suddenly Jesus stood in their midst. One moment He wasn’t there. The next moment He was. * They were terrified thinking they were seeing a ghost, a spirit. But Jesus said: Look, it is really me. See my hands and my feet.  Luke says – I love this line – “they still disbelieved for joy”. It was just too wonderful to be true.

  • Will we have that capacity in our resurrection bodies? I wonder.

So to prove Himself, Jesus asked: Do you have anything here to eat? and He ate two pieces of grilled fish. He was indeed alive, risen bodily from His grave. Then He began to explain to them how He was fulfilling what the Scriptures had said about Him. Let’s not go into that now. And then just as suddenly He was gone  – taking the grilled fish in His stomach with Him!

  • Will our resurrection bodies have that ability? I wonder.

Now, picking it up with the lovely Gospel reading for the First Sunday after Pascha (John 20:19-31): Thomas was not there on that first Pascha night.* When the other disciples told him they had seen the Lord, he was skeptical. He said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in His side, I will not believe.” That, of course, is why he carries the nickname “Doubting Thomas”.

  • Did you know: tradition says he also was not present for
    Look for yourself. Do you see Thomas there anywhere? (courtesy of basilica.ro

    the funeral of the Theotokos, but arrived three days later. Chronically late, eh? Clearly Saint Thomas was Orthodox.

Why didn’t Thomas trust the witness of his friends? After all, he knew them so well, and they were all absolutely sure Jesus was alive again. Well, what would your reaction be if you had been at someone’s funeral, someone you had loved deeply, had seen the person lying dead in the coffin, and then a few days later your friends told you they had seen that person alive again. Probably you’d think they were “on something”. They’d been at a party and somebody had drugged the wine.

I think he also had another  issue: Thomas had been hurt. He had believed so firmly that Jesus was the Messiah sent from God. He had committed his life to this. When His Master was killed, when He failed… well, what else could it mean: He was not the Messiah after all. I’m sure many of us know how it is when you’ve loved and lost, or believed in something firmly and it failed you. You feel for a while like you never want to love or trust, ever again. I think that was Thomas – afraid to love again, afraid to believe again. To which I say: Hooray for Thomas! God bless Thomas for wanting the truth, for being skeptical.

Now let Saint Thomas lead us into this topic which is of enormous importance today:

Truth and Falsehood

As I say, the world desperately needs more people like Saint Thomas, people reject lies and seek what is true. I don’t mean only people who seek religious truth, but all who seek truth of whatever sort – theological, scientific, philosophical, moral, medical, mathematical, sociological, whatever – even the facts about current events.

courtesy of loandbeholdbible.com

Because all who seek the truth in any way are seeking Jesus Christ, whether they know it or not – Jesus who said “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”. All that is true comes from God, Creator of all things, from Christ our God “through Whom all things were made”, as we say at every Liturgy. Therefore all who search for truth, of whatever sort – if they seek hard enough and honestly enough, and if they have long enough – will finally come to God, to Christ our God. Guess Who is behind the Big Bang?

The antithesis is also true: All who don’t care about truth, all who tell lies and keep passing them on are serving the devil, and I suspect perhaps they do know that.

Listen to Christ’s words on His first visit to Jerusalem: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” But to those who were telling lies about Him: “You are of your father the devil, and you do what he wants. He …is a liar and the father of lies.” John chapter 7  

Christ our God is The Truth, the ultimate Truth about all things. Satan is The Liar, the father of lies and liars.

courtesy of The Daily Beast

Which brings us to Pontius Pilate and our modern world. Remember on Holy Friday when Jesus was trying unsuccessfully to explain to Pilate who He is, He concluded, “For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”John 18:37-38

What is true? What is false?

Many people stand with Pilate these days. We are bombarded by so many conflicting so-called “facts” about so many things – of which some will be true and others must therefore necessarily be false. It’s tempting to say: Who knows? I can’t figure it out. “What is truth?”

And I am tempted now to just go to the beautiful story of how Thomas came to believe again. However, I think the Apostle Thomas leads us to ask whether things today, “religious” and otherwise, are true or false, and what has happened and is happening when people lose their foundations and just believe “anything”. When, unlike the blessed Apostle Thomas, they no longer care whether things are true or false.

And with that, we’ll conclude this Post.

On Friday: Some fairly appalling contemporary examples of what happens when people don’t care about truth – Saint Thomas, pray for us. And we’ll conclude with the lovely story we all know, of how Thomas came again to believe.


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