The incredulity of Saint Thomas,
Drawing by Vittorio Maria Bigari (1692-1776),
Mid 18th century,
Pencil and white chalk on brown paper
© Prado Museum, Madrid
Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe
Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. When the disciples said, 'We have seen the Lord', he answered, 'Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.' Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. 'Peace be with you' he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.' Thomas replied, 'My Lord and my God!' Jesus said to him:
'You believe because you can see me.
Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.'
Reflection on the Drawing
Our drawing by Italian artist Vittorio Bigari, from the mid 18th century (around the same time as yesterday's painting), depicts the moment Saint Thomas touches Jesus' wound. Today's Gospel reading is a story about seeing and believing. Our 21st-century thinking can easily portray Saint Thomas as a scientific hero needing empirical and tangible proof in order to believe. Atheists nowadays often refer to Saint Thomas as being one of theirs, wanting proof before believing.
But such an interpretation is not correct: implying that the other disciples were somehow naive, as they did not need evidence, is wrong. Remember that the other disciples believed in the Resurrection not just simply through blind faith, but because they had actually seen Christ risen from the dead with their very own eyes. Where Thomas went wrong initially is that he simply didn't trust the accounts of the risen Jesus from his very trusted and closest friends: he didn't believe his friends. How much do we trust our own friends?
Trusting friends is never easy to do. Trust builds. It is true that our trust is ultimately in God, but yet we need each other. Friends are important as they teach us, guide us, bring joy to us, and above all love us; and vice versa of course. In order for us to trust others, we must try to be people whom others can trust. It starts with us. It starts by sharing our hearts with others. It involves taking a risk to open ourselves to others, realising we have nothing to lose, only a lot to gain!
Happy feast day of Saint Thomas the Apostle!
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Readings related to John 20:24-29
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