Blessed by Unbelief – Homily on Thomas Sunday

Fr. Irineos reflects on the Apostle Thomas's unbelief, changed to belief with his touching of the Risen Lord, and how we remain blessed by his confession of that which his eyes did not see.

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Today's Gospel

John 20:19-31

19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD. 21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. 24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. 30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Patristic Commentary

St. Gregory the Great- But when the Apostle says, Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, (Heb. 11:1) it is plain that things which are seen, are objects not of faith, but of knowledge. Why then is it said to Thomas who saw and touched, Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed? Because he saw one thing, believed another; saw the man, confessed the God. But what follows is very gladdening; Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. In which sentence we are specially included, who have not seen Him with the eye, but retain Him in the mind, provided we only develope our faith in good works. For he only really believes, who practises what he believes.

St. Augustine. (Tr. cxxi.) Thomas saw and touched the man, and confessed the God whom he neither saw nor touched. By means of the one he believed the other undoubtingly: Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and my God.

St. John Chrysostom. (Hom. lxxxvii.) If any one then says, Would that I had lived in those times, and seen Christ doing miracles! let him reflect, Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

St. John Chrysostom (Homily 87 on the Gospel of John)

It is worth enquiring, how an incorruptible body showed the prints of the nails, and was tangible by a mortal hand. But be not thou disturbed; what took place was a matter of condescension. For that which was so subtle and light as to enter in when the doors were shut, was free from all density ; but this marvel was shown, that the Resurrection might be believed, and that men might know that it was the Crucified One Himself, and that another rose not in His stead. On this account He arose bearing the signs of the Cross, and on this account He eats. At least the Apostles everywhere made this a sign of the Resurrection, saying, We, who ate and drank with Him. Acts 10:41 As therefore when we see Him walking on the waves before the Crucifixion, we do not say, that that body is of a different nature, but of our own; so after the Resurrection, when we see Him with the prints of the nails, we will no more say, that he is therefore corruptible. For He exhibited these appearances on account of the disciple.

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