Sunday, April 28, 2013

Thomas' Faith

I recently was part of a small group that re-affirmed baptismal vows.

As part of that process, we met with the Bishop of our Diocese.  One of the things he asked us all, was to think on what Biblical story  we found most resonant for us.

Some found the resurrection at the tomb most important, others the story of Lazarus,  others still the parable of the Good Samaritan.

I realized that I really hadn't thought on what would be the most telling for me.

As I thought, the story that crystallizes my faith is that of Doubting Thomas.

Like many of the stories and parables in the New Testament,  this story can be viewed on many lights.  One of the advantages of a non-literal Bible tradition is that one can explore these different levels, and  we can view each of those as valid for discussion and contemplation.

The most common illumination of this story is the faith of the people who had not seen the visitation, yet still believed in the resurrection, unlike Thomas, who said "Show me."

What I find important in this tale is the circumstances involved.

In many cases, if one expresses doubt in The Faith, one is chastised or shunned.

Or the doubts force the doubter away, as they feel they have no place with those they may break from.

In this case, however, the week after the visitation that Thomas missed, he again met with the other disciples.

Those who had seen did not tell Thomas to go away because he did not believe, but welcomed him as their brother still.

Thomas himself did not cut himself from that community, either because he did not know where else to go, or he still hungered for the validation, at least second-hand, of his prior faith, or he still hungered for that faith itself.

When the Savior appeared again, He offered Thomas the chance to feel for himself the wounds, in order to prove the reality.  This was not done in spite or rebuke, but to show Thomas that he was still loved and wanted as a part of Christ's family, and that any proof would be offered gladly.

As someone was was unchurched for quite a while, this story, along with the parable of the prodigal son, speaks to me dearly, as reaffirmation that those who leave will be welcomed anew, with celebration and love.

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