Blessed are those who believe without seeing, for I am not one of them.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe in resurrection. I see resurrection daily, especially in nature: branches of trees, apparently dead after an endless Cleveland winter, spring back to life; new life, in the form of a tree, rises out of a dead stump; food scraps turn to soil in our compost pile.
That being said, I have great compassion for St. Thomas and his doubt in the gospel. Sweet Thomas, who could not believe in the resurrection until he saw it with his own eyes, is a model of a faith that asks questions— a healthy part of cultivating a robust faith.
Can we really judge St. Thomas, then? He just saw Jesus suffer a painful death on the cross. There was no precedent for renewal after such a brutal end to a human life. I, too, have seen the crucifixion with my own eyes, in the news coming from Ukraine, the racial injustice that permeates our society, the recent IPCC report on climate change, in women treated as second-class citizens in the Church, the story of Melissa Lucio, an innocent woman on death row, scheduled to be executed next week, and…on and on and on. I, like Thomas, wonder how Jesus and the world can rise up anew with wounds this deep.
“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.” I imagine Jesus saying this gently and lovingly. Believe, from its root word, means “to set one’s heart on.” Jesus invites Thomas, and us, to set our heart on Christ’s mission and completely transform the orientation of our lives as a result.
The gospel ends with these words, “But these are written that you may come to believe.” Our God of abundance is patient, and resurrection transformation takes time. I deeply desire the desire to believe without seeing, but in the meantime, I shakily put my hands into the tender wounds of the crucified world in front of my eyes, breathe deeply, and ask for the strength to not look away. To set my heart upon the resurrection I see happening all around me.
- Where do I see or experience signs of the resurrection?
- How have doubt and asking questions influenced my own faith life?
- Listen to the song Doubting Thomas by Nickel Creek. As you listen, notice any interior movements or feelings that arise. Is there a word or phrase that God is inviting you to explore today?
Brenna Davis is director of Education for Justice and environmental initiatives for the Ignatian Solidarity Network. She graduated from Boston College in 2010 and served in Cleveland as a Jesuit Volunteer. She previously taught theology, coached cross country, and served as main office coordinator at Saint Martin de Porres, Cleveland’s Cristo Rey High School. During her time there she was the self-proclaimed assistant to the director of facilities in all sustainability initiatives on campus. She is a certified spiritual director and a Cuyahoga County Master Recycler.