“Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.'” (John 20-27)
A Reflection on John 20:19-31
Have you ever been at a party, left to use the restroom, or take a call, only to come back and everyone is laughing about something that just happened? Normally, friends try to relate to you what happened, but it just never really captures the moment.
Well, in this Sunday’s Gospel Thomas finds himself in a similar situation. He left. I have no idea why Thomas left. Maybe he was bored. Maybe he was depressed and needed to take a walk. Whatever it was, Thomas missed a huge moment. He missed Jesus’ first appearance to the apostles after the Resurrection.
When Thomas returns, the rest of the apostles are jubilant, and he missed it. We know from the Gospel account that Thomas refuses to believe. (In a previous blog post I deal with why). He famously says:
“Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.” (John 20:25)
Now and forever it seems, Thomas, previously called the twin, is now known as doubting Thomas. Sadly, that is where most people stop looking at this story. It becomes a sort of platitude about believing and not questioning. But that is not the whole story. Interestingly, when Jesus appears again, Thomas is in the room.
Jesus looks at Thomas, and he says “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.”
Do you think that, upon seeing Jesus standing there, Thomas still needed the proof? Do you think he actually still needed to probe Jesus’ wounds? Probably not. Why would the Lord even bring it up? Is he taunting Thomas? Maybe it was playful. I don’t know exactly why Jesus says this, but I have a guess. You see, in saying those words to Thomas, Jesus is making it clear that he heard Thomas. Even when the Lord was not visible, when Thomas thought he was distant, and possibly not even alive, Jesus heard Thomas.
I think Jesus said those words, “put your finger here … ” because he knows us. I think he knows us well enough to understand that we forget, he is here. We struggle, and we wonder if he is really listening. We think that, because we can’t see him, that means he is somehow far away, or possibly not even alive.
I think Jesus says these words to Thomas because he wants us to hear something too, something important. “I am with you.”