FROM DOUBT TO FAITH
We modern people have learned to doubt. It’s a normal part of the spirit of our times to question everything, in order to progress in scientific knowledge. In this environment, faith is often disaccredited. Each person goes through life full of uncertainties and doubts.
This is why we easily identify with the way Thomas reacts when the other disciples let him know that while he was absent, they have had a surprising experience: «We have seen the Lord». Thomas could be someone of our own time. His response is clear: «If I don’t see it… I won’t believe it».
His attitude is understandable. Thomas doesn’t say that his companions are lying or that they’re mistaken. He just states that their testimony isn’t enough for him to follow their faith. He needs to live his own experience. And Jesus won’t reproach him for this at all.
Thomas has been able to express his doubts within the group of disciples. It seems that they aren’t scandalized by this. They haven’t thrown him out of the group. They themselves didn’t believe the women when these announced that they had seen the Risen Jesus. This episode with Thomas gives us a glimpse of the long journey that the small group of disciples had to walk until they arrived at a belief in the Risen Christ.
In our own day Christian communities ought to be an open space for dialogue where today’s faithful would be able to share honestly our doubts, questions, searchings. Not everyone lives the same experience in his or her inner life. In order to grow in our faith we need encouragement from and dialogue with others who share our same concerns.
But nothing can replace the experience of a personal contact with Christ in the depths of our own conscience. According to the Gospel account, eight days later Jesus comes again. He doesn’t criticize Thomas for his doubts. His resistance to believe shows his honesty. Jesus shows him his wounds.
They aren’t «proofs» of the resurrection, but «signs» of his love and his giving of self even unto death. That’s why he invites Thomas to go deeper into his doubts with trust: «Don’t be unbelieving, but believe». Thomas lets go of proving anything. He no longer feels the need for proofs. He only knows that Jesus loves him and invites him to trust: «My Lord and my God».
One day we Christians will discover that many of our doubts, if lived out in a healthy way, without losing contact with Jesus and the community, can rescue us from a superficial faith that is happy to just repeat formulas, and we will feel encouraged to grow in love and in trust of Jesus, that Mystery of the Incarnate God that is at the heart of our faith.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf