Msgr. Richard is away this week. He invited me to offer a reflection on this week’s Gospel. This is my reflection and my prayer that each of you continue to have a blessed Easter Season. —Mary Lou Butler
I think Thomas gets a bad rap in today’s gospel from John. Yes, it is true that when Jesus says, “Blessed are those who don’t see, but believe,” it is clearly a rebuke. But if we give this a little more thought, it is easy to realize that Jesus doesn’t reject Thomas or even scold him, or say something like “you didn’t believe so get out of here, stay away from me.” No, to the contrary, Jesus, actually shows his love for Thomas by appearing to the Apostles this second time when Thomas is with the Apostles. Then Jesus gives Thomas the proof that He has been resurrected by showing Thomas his wounds. And Thomas returns his love by saying, “My Lord and My God!”
We know that Jesus doesn’t just love us when we are true, sure and faithful. Jesus also loves us in our weaknesses and faults. When I was in Elementary School, the good Sisters taught us to pray small prayers throughout the day. There were one line prayers for a happy death, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, may I breathe forth my soul with you in peace.” There were short prayers to dedicate all our actions to God or to ask for God’s mercy, “Jesus, be merciful to me, a sinner”. And there was this prayer: “Lord, I believe, help me in my unbelief.” They said if we were ever tempted in our Faith that this prayer would save us. Of course, as in so many things we were taught in those years, I didn’t have a clue as to what they meant, but one thing I knew was that that particular prayer was going to be needed for me to get to heaven.
When my son died, I had some days when faith came hard, and that prayer the Sisters had taught me, “Lord, I believe, help me in my unbelief” became my mantra. Now I understood what the Sisters meant and I was glad that I had continued to say this prayer even when I didn’t need it.
As I have aged, and lived through the problems and challenges of life, I have realized that for most of us, there will come a time when we will need to touch his wounds and put our hand in his side. Other times, there won’t be a doubt in our minds, we’ll know and accept with a certainty all the doctrines and teachings of our Faith. But those difficult times, when we cry from the depths of our soul, “show me, Jesus, show me; help my unbelief.” And when Jesus, who loves us just as he loved Thomas, shows us the wounds, we can say like Thomas, “My Lord and My God.”