Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle
December 21, 2011
The Lord be with you
Today is the Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle. All four Gospels mention St. Thomas as one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. John’s Gospel, which names him “the Twin,” uses Thomas’s questions to reveal truths about Jesus. It is Thomas who says, “Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?” To this question Jesus replies, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:5-6). John’s Gospel also tells how Thomas, on the evening of the day of Jesus’ resurrection, doubts the report of the disciples that they had seen Jesus. Later “doubting Thomas” becomes “believing Thomas” when he confesses Jesus as “my Lord and my God” (John 20:24-29). According to tradition, Thomas traveled eastward after Pentecost, eventually reaching India, where still today a group of people call themselves “Christians of St. Thomas.” Thomas was martyred for the faith by being speared to death.
A Reading from a sermon by Kaj Munk (modified)
And now, this Gospel is for you, my Christian friend, who struggles with doubt and faith, with anxiety and denial. This is the Gospel that does not come to catechize you and force upon you certain dogmas, or to condemn you, but comes only to listen to the heartbeat of your soul. If it leans toward Jesus no matter what happens it has chosen Him and wants to belong to Him, then the Gospel says to you: Be faithful, continue in the faith.
It is great to have assurance of faith, but perhaps you do not belong to those who can always take this for granted. However, the Master is also able to use the Thomas type. Such people have a place in His group of disciples. And let me tell you that when the time is at hand, Jesus himself will come and bring an end to your uncertainty and your timid spirit. You will understand that it is not what you fail to understand that matters. Christ has had disciples who did not understand many things. Do not just stare blindly at them. Let not the devil fool you into thinking that unless you understand these things, you cannot be a disciple of Christ.
Abstain from empty and morbid speculation about whether you believe or not. This will get you no place but downwards. As Luther once said about reading the Bible, “where one does not understand it, pass that by and glorify God.” Be faithful to what you do understand. Practice Christianity and at the proper time, even though the doors be ever so tightly closed, Christ himself will appear before you and show you the hands that were pierced for your sin; and you will bow down in prayer, crying to Him in repentance and joy, “My Lord and my God!”
And after you have first addressed Him with so great a name, other things will no longer seem unintelligible. Perhaps it will then come to pass that the things you could not accept before will become dearest to you and your common sense.
Appropriate prayers include remembering the believers in India, for a healthy skepticism, for a renewal of the Easter faith, and for grace to receive Christ.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert