Doubting Thomas and the showing of wounds
It is not easy to live with uncertainty and ultimately we must place our faith in someone or something to give us reason for living. To have our faith in a cause or a person shattered is a terrible experience. This was the scenario facing St. Thomas.
Perhaps Thomas’ doubt was the fruit of bitter disappointments of the past. He may have had people in his life who let him down and who betrayed his trust. He was not born with this sense of hesitation or suspicion – we can speculate that those things are acquired from bitter learned experiences. He had learned caution and wariness about who he could trust. The word of others was not enough for him- he wanted proof, not testimony. Having staked everything on Jesus, the Lord, he had much to lose if he was wrong to trust Him.
Like Thomas then, there are plenty of people today who rationalise the supernatural and the spiritual and demand empirical evidence and refuse to believe. The danger is that we fall into the trap too – it ultimately leads to frustration, cynicism and despair. I once heard that ‘a cynic is a disappointed idealist.’ Their disappointment rankles with them and they are bitter with life and with others. We too have doubts, but more often they are really difficulties than doubts.
Thomas was lucky, because Christ came to him in his doubt in the flesh, in person.
Christ brings His wounds to us like he did to Thomas – He reveals them to us too so that we can have no doubt but that the crucifixion really happened but that so too did His resurrection. By his wounds we have been and will be healed.
I think that the significance of the feast of Divine Mercy today is this: not only does Christ show us His wounds – He invites us to show Him ours and allow Him to place His healing hands upon them. A physician will ask us where it hurts, causing us to howl in pain when he has reached a tender spot. Only then can he discern the nature and extent of our problem. It cannot serve our interests to hide away the pain. We must face the pain that healing will bring.
We are wounded in many shapes and forms, but maybe not physically. For example many carry around within themselves hidden psychological wounds and emotional traumas of the past – the stuff that they have nightmares about, the things they dread. Nightmares say a lot more about them and their fears, as well as their memories, than their dreams do. Common in men is a fear of exposure, of being seen for who they really are – as frauds, afraid that the veneer of carefully built defences will be erased, afraid of rejection and ridicule. Nightmares may also be a dread of the future and what it may bring.
I remember while in seminary passing around a series of tapes of conferences given by Fr Benedict Groeschel CFR – the one that seemed to strike the deepest chord in people was that entitled ‘Self-hate, hesitancy, and the love of God’. It deals with self-loathing, obviously more common in sinners than we realise.
If what I have said above about the need for healing in the area of the emotions or the psyche, what then of our souls? We must bear in mind that the side effects of Original and personal sin play havoc on our minds and emotional states causing fear, guilt, shame, troubled consciences, as well as the afore-mentioned self-loathing.
It is time therefore that we bring our wounds, spiritual, emotional, psychological, relational - whatever they may be - to Christ the Healer. Chief among them are the self-inflicted wounds of our sins. Christ alone can give us the healing (therapy), forgiveness and inner peace we seek especially when we find it hard to admit our failures, or to admit to the pain we may have caused to God, to others and ourselves, and yes, when all is said and done, as self-serving as it sounds - to forgive ourselves. But by his wounds we have been and will be healed.
‘Doubt no longer, but believe’.