Auxiliary Bishop Sylvester David offers his prayer and reflection for the people of the Archdiocese of Cape Town for today, Friday 3 July 2020, during this time of the coronavirus pandemic. It is also available on the Archdiocese of Cape Town’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Please also see below the text of his reflection, primarily for the deaf.
Feast of St Thomas – Apostle. Gospel reading John 20:24-29
Thomas has a somewhat less than positive reputation among the faithful. He is seen as a pessimist – someone who always expected rain on the day of the parish picnic. People often refer to those who are hesitant as “a doubting Thomas”. From the biblical accounts that appears to be true. When Jesus was on his way to raise Lazarus, Thomas wanted to go and “die with him” (John 11:16). In Jn 14:5 he is stumped. He does not know the way – giving Jesus the opportunity to present himself as “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6).
Thomas features most of all in chapter 20 of the Gospel of John – the chapter from which our passage for his feast is taken. He might always be looking at the dark side of the moon, but in today’s reading he teaches us a valuable lesson viz. that when we have doubts the best place to start is at the Cross. When the others announced that they had seen the risen Lord, Thomas refused to believe and said “unless I see the marks of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the marks of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). I don’t know why we point fingers at Thomas because having doubts was not only his disposition. The other apostles too only rejoiced after they had seen the marks of the Cross. After Jesus greeted them when he first appeared he showed them his hands and his side. He showed them the marks of the Cross. Then the disciples “rejoiced when they saw the Lord” (John 20:20).
Now it was the turn of Thomas and when Jesus returned eight days later he did not hide the marks of the Cross. Take note that this was the first eight day retreat in the Church. Thomas had to confront his faith issues. Jesus showed him the marks of the Cross. In John 20:27 we read “then he said to Thomas, ‘put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe’”. Thomas responded by making his profession of faith: “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28) he does this only after touching the marks of the Cross.
Then Jesus makes a statement that affirms all believers. He pronounces a beatitude: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (John 20:29). In other words he blesses you and me. With the Coronavirus and all the restrictions placed on our worship life where we cannot even see and touch the sacred host, Christians continue to believe. Nothing will shake their faith. These are the ones pronounced by the Lord as blessed. I wish you a joyful day as we learn from Thomas how to recognize the Lord. Thank you for staying with him even in the midst of a pandemic.
Let us pray: Lord we give you thanks for the gift of faith brought to us by your Holy Spirit. Thank you for the example of Thomas teaching us how to identify your Son through his wounds. Many around us are wounded. Help us to see your Son in those who suffer. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. [Blessing].
Bp. Sylvester David OMI
VG: Archdiocese of Cape Town