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August 2004 

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A Believer like Thomas




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A Believer like Thomas

John 20, 19-31: Jesus said to Thomas: "Be unbelieving no longer, but believe….Because on seeing me you have found faith. Happy are they who find faith without seeing me!"

"An unbeliever like Thomas!" It has become a proverb. Would not it be better to say: "A believer like Thomas"? Thomas looks so real, with a faith of ups and downs, a faith with eclipses and sparkles, a faith strong enough to put his confidence into an unknown traveler but not good enough to accept the information given to him.

Jésus et Thomas When Jesus said to Thomas: " Because on seeing me, you believe," he was announcing a truth that goes beyond the present circumstances.
Certainly first this can be a direct answer to the remark Thomas made to the Apostles who had "seen" the Resuscitated but not him: "If I don't see the marks of the nails in his hands, I will not believe" When Thomas saw Jesus amongst his disciples in the cenacle, he had a reaction that reveals how he has already understood the Messiah; "My Lord and My God!"
This expression of faith goes beyond the recognition that the Living detected after Easter is the very same person he met every day for three years of common apostolic activity. For Thomas this person suddenly takes his entire dimension. To reach that point, one needs more than to see the scars on the body of the Resuscitated.
We may wonder what kind of reality Thomas and the Apostles did detect? Shall we give some materiality to the stories of the apparitions of Jesus? Some people would rather follow the sober explanation given by Saint Leon the Great, who said in short: "we see Jesus as we carry him in our heart"; Jesus reveals himself on the outside as we visualize him to our self.
"Because on seeing me, you believed" What is important for Thomas is a belief based on what he saw of Jesus during the long period when they were together. What did he discover of him? A man of a warm welcome, able to lift some one up with a few words; a prophet who announced a Kingdom of happiness in which you enter through the disconcerting ways listed in the Beatitudes and by keeping the essential commandment:
"You will love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself"; a free man in regard to the Sabbath and all human regulations, what ever they are, it is more important to save a life than to let it die in observing the rules. 

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More we agree with these fundamental truths, greater is our faith in the One who announced them and more important totally lived them. Because of that, we believe that life has a meaning; it leads us towards Some One who opens to us a new heaven and a new earth.
lumière intérieure To understand all that, it is not enough to walk daily with the Master. An interior light is needed that changes our perspectives and renews our heart. 
Thomas among the Apostles experienced the same thing than Peter when he expressed his faith to Jesus (Mathew 16, 17): Jesus answered: "You did not learn that from any human being; it was revealed to you by my heavenly Father"
The same gift is offered to all who search for God, for all times. None can regret of not having seen with his proper eyes, even a glimpse, the Master before or after his passage from this life to the other.
The last word is in Saint John: "Happy are those who believe without having seen"…without having seen the face of the Son of man with your own eyes but having gradually discovered, with the light of the Holy Spirit, some aspects of Christ, himself showing the Father.

Paul himself who also once "saw" the Lord, on the Damask road, and who willingly told about this wonderful grace, heavily insisted on the other daily context; "We go our way in faith and not with a clear view" (2 Co 5,7). 

chemin dans la foi