Oh Ye of Little Faith – Doubting Thomas

Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Ph.D.

Second Sunday of Easter
April 15, 2012

We don’t know where Thomas was. All we know is that he missed it. All the others were huddling together behind locked doors, hoping that the authorities would be satisfied with the blood of their master and leave them alone.

But Jesus wouldn’t leave them alone. Despite the locked doors, there He stood, glorious in their midst, bringing peace where there had been only fear. Instead of rebuking them for cowardice, He breathes upon them the Spirit of mercy and commissions them to be ambassadors, indeed instruments, of His Divine mercy. They are at last truly “apostles,” for they are “sent out,” like Jesus, the original Apostle, who was sent forth by the Father for the forgiveness of sins. Sinners, called to bring other sinners the Good News of mercy. Sinners, called to console others with the same consolation that they have received from the One without sin.

They couldn’t believe that Thomas missed this encounter and couldn’t wait to tell him the news. But Thomas stubbornly refused to believe that it was anything more than a mirage. For everyone knows that death is final. Corpses don’t come back to life and show up for afternoon tea. Never mind His many puzzling predictions about “raising up this temple in three days.” Never mind the fact that all of his brothers save Judas were there and swore they saw His wounds. Thomas proudly insisted on empirical evidence that he could personally inspect to his own satisfaction.

So eight days later the Master once again defies the barred doors and appears in their midst. This time Thomas is present. Imagine the look on his face as his eyes and Jesus’ meet. Talking about wanting to crawl under the nearest rock! Jesus invites him to sate his appetite for proof and probe His wounds. Thomas decides not to explain, not to defend, but simply to surrender. He is asked to believe that His master is risen. But he rises to the occasion to confess even more–that His master is not just Lord, but God. Thomas’ confession of Jesus’ divinity can be seen as the climax, the punch-line, of the entire Gospel of John, a fitting confirmation of its very first verse: “the Word was with God and the Word was God” (Jn 1:1).

Faith now has overcome fear. It will soon overcome the world. It would take some time, mind you, for the mightiest empire the world had ever seen to fall to its knees in adoration. But eventually, brutal emperors dropped their pretensions, abandoned their pride, and confessed the very same faith as the formerly doubting Thomas. In the words of our second reading, “the power that has conquered the world is this faith of ours (I Jn 5:4).

Faith has this sort of power because it is a supernatural gift. It was the Spirit He breathed on them that Easter afternoon that had empowered the ten to believe and become themselves ambassadors of faith and mercy. Without that same Spirit, Thomas was powerless to believe. But once the breath of the Risen unfroze his hard heart, Thomas too could experience the joy of faith and assume his God-appointed task to be one of the foundation stones of the new temple of God, the Church.

This temple, formed by living stones, was a compelling testimony indeed. The pagans are reported to have remarked “see how these Christians love one another.” For they were a community of people who appeared to have one heart and one mind (Acts 4:32-35). They even shared their material resources so that none would be in need. This unity flowed from their one faith.

Thomas was once known as the doubter. But he and his fellow doubters came to be called “the believers.” That should give us hope. If we desire it, the Spirit will strengthen the drooping hands and weak knees of our own imperfect faith to make us effective ambassadors to a skeptical world.


A Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
April 15, 2012

The Final and Ultimate Encounter
Whenever you see a picture of St Thomas he is almost always represented as touching the wound in Christ’s side. But in fact the Gospel does not record this event.

Christ certainly showed him his wounds and invited him to put his finger into them but it seems that Thomas never took up the offer. What he did instead was to make an extraordinary profession of faith with the words “My Lord and my God.

Second Sunday of Easter
The first thing that we notice in today’s gospel is the amazing effect of that the presence and words of Jesus have on his confused and frightened disciples. He finds them in hiding, completely immobilized by the terrible realization of the death of their beloved leader. He addresses them cheerfully with the standard greeting: “Peace.” Under normal circumstances, this simply means that one wishes another well. But it means far more than that when spoken by the risen Lord. The disciples feel that the world is out of control. Jesus assures them that such is not the case. In fact, he is there to offer them the gift of deep and unshakable confidence. In spite of dire appearances, all is well.

Divine Mercy Sunday and the Sacrament of Reconciliation
Several years ago, the Catholic Church declared the Sunday after Easter “Divine Mercy Sunday.” So what exactly is “mercy” anyway, and what does it have to do with the Easter season?

Mercy is not just pity. Neither is it simply sparing someone the punishment that they deserve. No, mercy is love’s response to suffering. When mercy encounters suffering, it ultimately seeks to alleviate it. God the Father is so “rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4) that Paul calls him “the Father of all mercies and the God of all comfort” (2 Cor 1:3).

Pope: The Resurrection Transforms Our Lives, Bringing Joy
Believers in Christ can look to his resurrection as a source of fearless confidence, Pope Benedict XVI told pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square at his first general audience of the 2012 Easter season.

Jesus’ victory over death, the Pope said on April 11, “transforms our lives; it frees them from fear, gives them firm hope, and infuses them with something that provides existence with full meaning: the love of God.”

When did the Resurrection become truly the Faith, and the official teaching of the Church?
In the early hours of the resurrection appearances on the first Easter Sunday news began to be circulated that Jesus was alive and had been seen. These reports were, at first disbelieved or at least doubted by the apostles. Various reports from both women and men were dismissed by the apostles. But suddenly in the evening of that first Easter Sunday there is a change, and a declaration by the apostles that the Lord “has truly risen!” What effected this change? We will see in a moment. But first note the early reports of the resurrection and how they were largely disregarded:

The Miracle of Life
StAR’s publisher, Bruce Fingerhut, just sent me this link. It’s astonishing. It shows the development of a human baby from conception to birth using computer graphics. The images are beautiful in their own right, and well worth watching, but what I found most fascinating was the frank admission by this brilliant mathematician that the statistical odds against such a mechanism ever coming into being by accident were unthinkable, rationally speaking. He keeps using the word “magic” but once let slip the word “divinity”. This nine minute video should be sufficient for any rational person to see through the nonsense of Dawkins and his superstitious and unscientific materialism.

“Lapsed” Catholics…
In 2007, a Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life study reported that one-third of Americans were raised Catholic but slightly less than one-third of those (~11% of all Catholics) stopped practicing their faith in the sense of “stopped attending Mass.”

That raises the question, “Why are those people not attending Mass?”

A USA Today article discussed a recent study of 298 people—67% of whom were women—who stopped attending Mass in the Diocese of Trenton (NJ). The study indicates they did so for three reasons:

This Fiesty Manifesto is Just What American Catholics Need
“Social issues.” It’s a squishy, equivocal term suited to a mentality ill at ease with the hard-edged implications of “moral issues” and “morality.” What implications? That there are definite moral truths that show some things to be always and everywhere wrong and deserving of condemnation. Not what the “social issues” mindset cares to hear.

There’s some helpful thinking on this subject in a new book by an archbishop that I want to recommend. But before getting to that, let me do a little scene-setting.

Emmerich’s vision of the Harrowing of Hell – “Lucifer will be unchained for a time fifty or sixty years before AD 2000”
On Holy Saturday we remember the fact that Our Lord descended into Hell and liberated all those poor souls – since the our first parents, Adam and Eve, onwards – who had been waiting and longing for his saving redemption. He also subjected all things to his victory – even the demons, who were forced to ‘bow the knee’ at his appearing.

The German mystic, Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774 – 1824), famously received several visions depicting intimate moments from the life of Jesus, as well as the lives of Mary and many other saints.

The Shroud of Turin, represented at every Mass
Then cometh Simon Peter … and went into the sepulcher, and saw the linen cloths lying, And the napkin that had been about his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but apart, wrapped up into one place. (John 20: 6-7)

The Shroud of Turin is traditionally believed to be the pure linen burial cloth which was wrapped around the Corpse of our Savior and which was found in the empty tomb on the first Easter Sunday. The image of our Lord miraculously imprinted upon the Shroud is a visible indication and (to some degree) “proof” of the Resurrection

Who’s Choosing the Religious Life? Study Says Newly Professed Are Young and More Educated
A recent study of men and women who professed perpetual vows in 2011 shows that new members of religious orders are younger and more educated than those in the past.

“We are encouraged by the report’s findings that men and women are considering a vocation at a younger age,” said Mercy Sister Mary Joanna Ruhland, associate director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat of Vocations and Consecrated Life.

Everyone tells you how hard marriage is. They warn you against letting the sun go down on your anger, give creative ideas for date nights and share war stories from their newlywed years. Intellectually, you know all of this is true, all possible, and so you take notes. You try hard to budget for a date night, talk about your day and listen to your spouse, and you look forward to the time you can share your own war stories. “Remember when we only had 1 closet for the 2 of us?!”

Church Welcomes Thousands of New Catholics at Easter
Thousands of new Catholics were baptized and thousands more Christians were received into full communion with the Catholic Church at the Easter vigil last weekend.

Jeanette DeMelo, communications director for the Archdiocese of Denver (and recently named editor and chief of the Register, to start in June), reflected on the vigil Mass’ beginnings in darkness and the symbolism of its transformation into full light.

The untold story of the Titanic’s Catholic priest who went down hearing confessions
Amidst all the tales of chivalry from the Titanic disaster there is one that’s not often told.

It is that of Fr. Thomas Byles, the Catholic priest who gave up two spots on a lifeboat in favour of offering spiritual aid to the other victims as they all went down with the “unsinkable” vessel.

A 42-year-old English convert, Fr. Byles was on his way to New York to offer the wedding Mass for his brother William. Reports suggest that he was reciting his breviary on the upper deck when the Titanic struck the iceberg in the twilight hours of Sunday, April 14th, 1912.

6 Quotes from the Church Fathers on Mourning the Loss of a Child or Loved One
Listers, when there is a death in the family, it is always very hard to find the right words to say. I always struggle with this and end up bumbling through my condolences. In the end, I always feel that whatever I say is trite even though my attempts were heartfelt and well-meaning. It is especially hard to console a family when they are grieving the loss of a child. Recently, a couple members of my extended family lost not one child but two in the span of one year, so I felt like words were not enough. I decided to seek out the wisdom of the Church Fathers, who always know the right thing to say. What I found was not only uplifting but shed some light on how Catholics ought to view death. Whether it is you who might have lost a child or someone you might know, these quotes from the Church Fathers might be of some consolation. This list is a compilation of my findings:

Actor Andy Garcia Fights for Religious Freedom in ‘For Greater Glory’
In the film For Greater Glory, which opens April 20 in Mexico and June 1 in the U.S., actor Andy Garcia plays the lead role of atheistic Gen. Enrique Gorostieta, who is hired to lead the Cristero Army — so-called because they were fighting for Cristo Rey (Christ the King) — in its 1926-1929 fight against the Mexican government, which was persecuting Catholics.

Top 10 Catholic News Sites
Listers, it almost goes without question that the mainstream media does not understand religion, much less the one true faith of Holy Mother Church. Catholicism cannot be boiled down to a list of doctrines, but demands a formation of the intellect and way of thinking. To properly report on Catholicism a Catholic news source is a necessity. The following sites represent the best Catholic news outlets available to the laity, and have been distinguished from SPL’s list of the Best in Catholic Blogging.

Fr. Flanagan Wouldn’t Qualify Either
One of the more disturbing aspects of this HHS mandate is knowing the degree to which our nation has profited from Catholics only now to have our consciences treated so shabbily.

As an example I give you the life of Fr. Edward J. Flanagan, the founder of Boys Town, and whose cause has recently opened. Many may remember the 1938 movie about the straight-talking priest played by Spenser Tracy, who won an academy award for his portrayal. Fr. Flanagan not only started a ministry for lost and abandoned boys in his neighborhood of Omaha but extended that work of compassion all over the country so that boys would beg, borrow and steal in order to come to Boys Town.


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