“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:29).
Today’s commemoration of St. Thomas the Apostle lets us pause to consider the value of all the Apostles who messed up or asked tough questions on our behalf. If Thomas had accepted the witness of his fellow Apostles to the resurrection, we would not have today’s Gospel about his doubts and his demand to see and touch the wounds of the risen Christ before he would believe.
Consider also the obnoxious Zebedee brothers, James and John, who sent their mother to deal with Jesus about their status on his right and left, or whose suggestion that Jesus send down fire on an inhospitable Samaritan town earned them the nickname “Sons of Thunder.”
What about Nathaniel, who insulted Jesus before even meeting him with the question, “What good can come from Nazareth?” Then there was Philip, whose practical mind overrode Jesus’ fanciful suggestion that they feed a crowd of 5,000 with a child’s lunch by calculating the actual cost of ordering out.
Moving on to Simon the Zealot and Matthew the tax collector, and finally to Peter who denied Jesus and Judas who betrayed him, we might get the idea that Jesus chose his Apostles to prove that grace could work with the whole range of human frailty and fallibility.
St. Thomas and his fellow Apostles encourage us by setting the bar low enough for all of us to qualify as followers of Jesus. If they could make the team, so can we. Our chance at holiness rests not on our worthiness but on the call of Jesus. It is because he has chosen us, befriended us and redeemed us that we have any hope of being saints.
Remaining in his love despite our sinfulness and believing in his mercy no matter how often we fail is all it takes to get us home. This is the joy of the Gospel.