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Benedict XVI: The true meaning of mature faith
The proverbial scene of the doubting Thomas that occurred after Easter is very well known. At first he did not believe that Jesus had appeared in his absence and said: "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe" (Jn 20:25).
Basically, from these words emerges the conviction that Jesus can now be recognised by his wounds rather than by his face. Thomas holds that the signs that confirm Jesus' identity are now above all his wounds, in which he reveals to us how much he loved us. In this the Apostle is not mistaken.
As we know, Jesus reappeared among his disciples eight days later and this time Thomas was present. Jesus summons him: "Put your finger here, and see my hands and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not be faithless, but believing" (Jn 20:27).
Thomas reacts with the most splendid profession of faith in the whole of the New Testament: "My Lord and my God!" (Jn 20:28). St Augustine comments on this: Thomas "saw and touched the man, and acknowledged the God whom he neither saw nor touched but by the means of what he saw and touched, he now put far away from him every doubt, and believed the other" (In ev. Jo. 121, 5).
The Evangelist continues with Jesus' last words to Thomas: "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe" (Jn 20:29). This sentence can also be put into the present: "Blessed are those who do not see and yet believe".
In any case, here Jesus spells out a fundamental principle for Christians who will come after Thomas, hence, for all of us.
The Apostle Thomas' case is important to us for at least three reasons: first, because it comforts us in our insecurity; second, because it shows us that every doubt can lead to an outcome brighter than any uncertainty; and, lastly, because the words that Jesus addressed to him remind us of the true meaning of mature faith and encourage us to persevere, despite the difficulty, along our journey of adhesion to him.
An extract from Benedict XVI's Catechesis on the Apostles at a General Audience in St Peter's Square, 27 September 2006.
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 24 No 4 (May 2011), p. 2
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