This week I had the opportunity of listening to a podcast that spoke about the relationship between faith and science. It was an interview with two Jesuit priests who worked at the Vatican Observatory and their interests in astronomy. Among the questions that were posed, one of them was asked during the interview, how does one make sense of faith and science, in this context, astronomy? So, the candid answer given by the priest-astronomer was quite surprising. He alluded to the fact that it is a struggle at times to make sense of the convergence points but there is “something” that keeps him grounded in the faith. Everything does not need to make sense but there are things that make more sense than the others.
The gospel today points to a similar struggle. When the disciples told Thomas, “We have seen the Lord,” he said, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” Thomas was trying to make sense of the stories that others had told him about how some had seen Jesus. Perhaps in some ways also sulking at the fact that he wasn’t there when Jesus first appeared to the other disciples.
It’s easy for us to be critical of St. Thomas for his lack of belief and label him as ‘Doubting Thomas’. He probably doubted out of sadness and despair or maybe even because of disillusionment as he had given three years of his life to following Jesus, and now He is dead. Not just that, in his mind, people simply do not rise from the dead!
This encounter is going to be an important narrative for the followers of Jesus in years to come because the Church will only have these narratives to rely on for the spread of the faith. In this encounter, Jesus had to “heal” the unbelief of Thomas and that is why He invites him to feel the nail marks in order to believe. The healing here was not a physical one, but spiritual – Jesus “heals” his unbelieving faith.
Very often in life we too find ourselves at crossroads in our faith journey. We may encounter some difficulty, disappointment or even a painful situation that makes us wonder… God, where are you? There also times when we find our human reasoning challenging our faith reasoning that we may choose to trust our human reasoning more than what faith offers us. These may not be too far from what Thomas felt seeing Jesus die on the cross.
However, through those struggles, Thomas makes a confession of faith when he calls out, My Lord and My God! This exclamation proved that healing had taken place – from unbelief to belief. Thomas wasn’t interested in how it happened but was just ready to put his faith and trust in Jesus once again.
There are times in our own lives where we do not understand many things… why, what, when and how? On this Sunday when we celebrate God’s mercy, we are invited to put our faith in the one who has risen from the dead – Jesus, I trust in you. Will everything make sense after we do this? Perhaps not. Nevertheless, if our starting point is to focus on what makes sense, then those that do not, will become less important. In this season of Easter, let us not doubt the power of God, who is to be able to do anything and everything He chooses. For that reason, God can also do anything He wills in our lives. We must believe and know that what He reveals to us in faith will come to be if we but trust in His provident care. Jesus, I trust in you. Amen.