April 20, 2014

FROM THE ARCHIVES: THE THIN GRUEL OF EXPERIENCE:

Believing Is Seeing (Romano Guardini, Bruderhof.com)

Thomas declared, "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it." -John 20:25
Thomas appears to have been a realist - reserved, cool, perhaps a little obstinate.

The days went by, and the disciples went on living under this considerable tension.

Another week, and they were together again in the house, and this time Thomas was with them. The same thing repeated itself. Jesus passed through closed doors, stepped into their midst, and spoke: "Peace be upon you!" Then he called the man who was struggling against faith: "Let me have thy finger; see, here are my hands. Let me have thy hand; put it into my side. Cease thy doubting, and believe!" At this point Thomas was overwhelmed. The truth of it all came home to him: this man standing before him, so moving, arousing such deep feelings within him, this man so full of mystery, so different from all other men - He is the very same One they used to be together with, who was put to death a short time ago. And Thomas surrendered: "Thou art my Lord and my God!" Thomas believed.

Then we come upon the strange words: "And Jesus said to him, 'Thou hast learned to believe, Thomas, because thou hast seen me. Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have learned to believe!'"

Such words as these are really extraordinary! Thomas believed because he saw. But our Lord did not call him blessed. He had been allowed to "see," to see the hands and the side, and to touch the blessed wounds, yet he was not blessed!

Perhaps Thomas had a narrow escape from a great danger. He wanted proofs, wanted to see and touch; but then, too, it might have been rebellion deep within him, the vainglory of an intelligence that would not surrender, a sluggishness and coldness of heart. He got what he asked for: a look and a touch. But it must have been a concession he deplored having received, when he thought on it afterwards. He could have believed and been saved, not because he got what he demanded; he could have believed because God's mercy had touched his heart and given him the grace of interior vision, the gift of the opening of the heart, and of its surrender.


[originally posted: 3/27/05]

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Posted by at April 20, 2014 5:47 AM
  

Hmmm

Posted by: Peter B at March 28, 2005 10:34 AM

This story is a particular favorite of mine, but I don't agree with this interpretation. I am skeptical by nature and slow to accept religious claims. I believe that God, for reasons of his own, made me that way. Thomas got the proof he needed; I am still waiting for mine. When it comes, maybe it will seem to be the second-best blessing, maybe not.

Posted by: fulmar at March 28, 2005 12:32 PM

Thomas was indeed blessed by receiving the proof he sought, needed and desired! The "Rock of Ages" was cleft even for him.

OJ: Why do you assume that because Jesus didn't say (or at least we have no record of him saying, "Thomas blessed are you because can now see and touch," that he was not blessed by the risen Christ? The text does not state or imply that Thomas' faith was second rate! I know that that's official Catholic teaching and all, but why do you make that assumption?

I imagine that he did receive great joy and that peace which passes all human understanding (ie. was blessed) through the experience. I will not say, "oh well, your tough luck" to those struggling with faith issues, nor will I willing to say, "if you need tangable, air tight proof before you say 'I believe' then you're not a true believer."

fulmer:
Blessed are you as you act on your faith and as you struggle to understand the "Truth that sets men free"!

Posted by: Dave W. at March 28, 2005 1:19 PM

Dave:

There's always shame in having to have someone prove physically what you should have taken on faith.

Posted by: oj at March 28, 2005 1:25 PM
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