SAINT THOMAS (?-c.72), Apostle and martyr – Patron saint of architects, builders, stone masons, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India
Today, the universal Church celebrates the Feastday of Saint Thomas the Apostle, who is best remembered for his initial unwillingness to believe the other Apostles in their claim that Jesus had risen from the dead. Thomas, through his prayers of intercession for each and every one of us, can teach the faithful what it truly means to believe without seeing.
In the Gospels, Thomas is listed as one of the original Twelve; yet, there is very little written about him. John’s Gospel calls him the “twin (Didymus)”. Except for three occasions, Thomas rarely stands out among his colleagues during Jesus’ lifetime.
On the first occasion, when Jesus was ready to depart for Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead, Thomas states, “Let us also go to die with him” (John 11:16b). The second occasion is at the Last Supper when Jesus was preparing His Apostles for His imminent departure due to His Passion and Death and His return to His Father, and that they know the way in which they may be together again. Thomas replies, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” (John 14:5), to which Jesus responds, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6a).
The third occasion is for what he is most renowned – for which he has been unfortunately labeled over the centuries as the “doubting Thomas” – “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25b). And then after seeing the Risen Christ one week later, he exclaims, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28b).
In his general audience on September 27, 2006, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI spoke of Saint Thomas, explaining that we can learn from his doubts which show us “…that Jesus can now be recognized by His wounds rather than by His face.” In other words, we all bear the scars of the crosses we carry in life, and we should recognize the suffering Jesus in one another.
The pope continues by saying, “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.”
In other words, in Thomas’ humanity, we find our own. And, in Thomas’ developing faith, our faith also grows, even in the midst of our own doubts and uncertainties in life, as long as we maintain our focus on the One who always stands before us, who continually invites us to be united with Him – both in this life and the next – for this becomes the hope which strengthens and sustains us in our continuing pilgrimage on this side of eternity.
According to tradition, it is believed that Saint Thomas preached the Good News of Jesus Christ to the Persians and Medes, until he reached his destination in India, where he evangelized and, as tradition further states, he was martyred about the year 72 A.D.
We commemorate his Feastday on July 3.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for Saint Thomas, Apostle)
“Almighty Father, as we honor Thomas the Apostle, let us always experience the help of his prayers. May we have eternal life by believing in Jesus, whom Thomas acknowledged as Lord, for He lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”