Reflections on Deacon Lyn's Homily - April 27, 2014
One of the advantages of having been a Christian for many years, is the incredible number of Bible stories and commentaries you get to hear in Church. Recalling these things during a homily at Mass seems to have become a habit of mine recently, and Sunday was no exception, as I listened to the wonderful homily by Deacon Lyn concerning the Apostle Thomas "Taking a chance on grace".
The gospel passage was the familiar story of Thomas doubting the risen Christ, and demanding proof. Once that proof was offered, he surrenders wholeheartedly to the reality that Jesus is "...my Lord and my God..." a confession of Christ's divinity no less astounding than that of Peter in an earlier passage. This piece of scripture has earned Thomas the moniker "doubting", which in my opinion somewhat unfairly summarizes a great man and apostle. In many ways, Thomas was a bit like Peter: (Jn 14:5) Practical - "Lord, we don't know where you're going, so how can we follow you?"; (Jn 11:16) Impulsive - "Then we shall go to Jerusalem to die with Him"; (Mk 14:50) Afraid - "Then they all forsook Him and fled". But I find it curious that while the others cowered in the upper room, Thomas was the only one who had the guts to venture outside (probably for some practical need, like food or water). For some reason, I am drawn to this saint; perhaps because he is all too human, displaying at times a character that is a bit similar to my own. Here are my thoughts:
I'm reminded of Father Ron's statement that every name in scripture is given for a reason, and often has a meaning attached to it. In Thomas' case, we are told that "Thoma" means "twin". The Greek word Didymus can be literally translated "Two men", which makes me wonder if it's really true that Thomas was a twin brother to some other disciple - as has been suggested by many - or if it instead belies his personality, as names so often do. It isn't a stretch to see the double-mindedness of Thomas in the events of the passion. Then again after the resurrection, in the absence of clear proof, he is doubtful of the testimony of the others, and demands to see for himself. At the ascension we read in Mt 28:17 that "they all worshipped Him, but some doubted", and immediately our minds turn to poor old Thomas. Is he still acting like a "double-minded man...unstable in all his ways" (James 1:8)? But then, on the day of Pentecost everything changes. Thomas and the other apostles are suddenly and miraculously changed. As Deacon Lyn would say, they are HIT BY GRACE. The boldness with which they proclaim the Good News is astounding, given their timidity just hours before. And this fervor remains with them for the rest of their lives...even to the point of death.
In Thomas' case, we are told that he was chosen to head East with the gospel; a task which he initially hesitated to perform, but was convicted to fulfill when the Lord appeared to him (same old Tom). But once he had his "proof", he jumped at the task,and performed great works throughout the Near East, as far as India. Eventually the conversions that resulted from his preaching cost him his very life at the hands of the Sultan, but his boldness is still renown throughout the region. Today, "Thomas" remains the most popular western name throughout India, and many churches bear his name as well. Truly he is a great saint and faithful apostle. The full name given to him by Eusebeus in his "Ecclesiastical History" is Jude Thoma Didymus, and is rendered in the Greek as Δίδυμος. It curiously carries the literal meaning "one twin died". I'm guessing it was the "doubter".
As Lyn admonished us: When I come to Mass each Sunday, am I willing to be changed by grace? Am I willing to let "one twin die"?