The news stunned me! Joshua, my youngest son, had texted me asking me if I had heard. What? NO WAY!! He couldn't have. It can't be true. All kinds of thoughts and emotions passed as I tried to process how one of my favorite Pittsburgh Pirates had been caught using performance enhancing drugs and was subsequently suspended for 80 games. Starling Marte, the closest player talent-wise to my beloved hero, Roberto Clemente, was a cheat?!? It seems to be clear that Marte broke the rules and he has admitted it and has accepted the consequences. And yet, I just didn't want to believe it. Once I read the article and encountered the truth, I believed. This kind of dynamic plays out in this week's Gospel:
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."
Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."
Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe." Thomas answered and said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed." Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name. John 20:19-31
Thomas doubts! He doesn't believe his friends who share the news that Jesus is alive. He needs first hand proof. What exactly is Thomas expressing? He clearly states that unless he sees Jesus' scarred hands and probes His side he will not believe that Jesus is alive. Jesus comes again and offers proof to Thomas. In that moment Thomas encountered the Risen Christ. Thomas believes and professes his belief with a powerful statement. "My Lord and my God!" (emphasis added)
The Gospel then switches to you and me. First, Jesus speaks of those who have not seen Him and still believe. Then Saint John speaks directly to you and me. He explains that Thomas' story is shared with us over many other signs so that, "...you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name."
Here are two question that you and I have to answer for ourselves. "Have you come to believe that Jesus is the Christ? And if so, have you had a personal encounter with that same Jesus the Christ, the Son of God that you might have "life in his name"? Once we have that encounter we profess as Thomas did, "My Lord and my God!" It is in this belief that we are able to overcome every doubt on our journey to everlasting life with the Risen Christ. If you haven't had that encounter, ask Jesus to show Himself to you. I have no doubt that He will.