April 27, 2014 - 2nd Sunday of Easter, Year A
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
Why are we told that Thomas is the one called Didymus? What a strange name. For the gospel writer to retain such a strange name, it must tell us something significant.
Didymus means twin. Thomas is a twin.
Why does the gospel writer tell us that Thomas is a twin?
And then not tell us who? Who is Thomas’ twin?
Are we supposed to guess? Let’s guess! Who is Thomas’ twin?
We know he wasn’t a twin to Peter and Andrew or to James and John. We are told that these pairs are brothers, not triplets. So it can’t be them.
Thomas could have been Matthew’s twin brother.
Or more intriguing, he could have been Mary Magdelene’s twin sister.
Or perhaps he is twins with Judas Iscariot and that’s why we aren’t told. This is all speculation of course.
So what is the real reason for making the point of telling us that Thomas means twin?
Are we supposed to read between the lines? Maybe so. Maybe we are supposed to see ourselves as Thomas’ twin. In that way, we could better enter into the gospel story.
We are a bit like Thomas after all. We don’t say, “I won’t believe until I’ve seen.”
Instead, we say, “If only I had certainty.” And we go off looking for a sign from God.
Wouldn’t it be nice to know for certain why things happen and how they will end up?
To know why people die from cancer? Why we are born with this color or that color skin?
Why there continues to be so much fighting in the Middle East? Why did so many people die because of all these extreme weather events?
Wouldn’t we like to know for certain that our spouse loves us beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we really count for something in this world, that we are the apple in at least one person’s eyes.
If only we could know for certain, we could put up with a lot of things, couldn’t we?
But the fact is, we don’t have certainty, so we become Thomas’ twin. There is a mix of belief and unbelief in each of us, faith and doubt.
What causes Thomas’ lack of faith? If we could understand what causes Thomas’ disbelief, then we might better understand ours.
Maybe it’s absence. Thomas was absent. He was not there in the Upper Room when the Lord appeared.
There may be many reasons for his absence. After all, the little group of Apostles had just lost their leader.
They must have been upset, depressed. Maybe Thomas wanted to be alone, maybe he couldn’t face the others. Or maybe he was the bravest and had gone out to get supplies.
Either way, the fact remains that he was absent. He missed out.
Let’s put it another way, a way that we might better understand. Thomas was not at church that Sunday morning. That’s always a mistake.
Whatever the reason, he corrected it the following Sunday.
He was there with the other Apostles when Jesus appeared again.
It’s a mistake when we say: I don’t have to go to church. I can worship God in my own way.
Why? Because we can’t find our way all alone. We can’t find faith all by ourselves. We rely on the faith of the church. We rely on the faith of this community.
We need each other because we all have our doubts and disbeliefs. There are times when each of us experiences the absence of Christ in our lives.
There is nothing wrong with that. It is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a reality.
Notice that Thomas did not have to place his fingers in Jesus’ hands or side. He just needed to be there when Jesus appeared. That was enough to make up for his lack of faith.
The gospel writer tells us that Thomas was a twin. Maybe Thomas is our twin. And like Thomas, we are given the opportunity to see and touch the Risen Lord.
We do that here, together. We need one another to survive in our faith, in our belief, and in our worship, so that, with Thomas, we can cry out, "My Lord and my God."