July 3, 2013


Readings at Mass: Feast of Saint Thomas, Apostle

Ephesians 2:19-22
Psalm 117:1b-2

Talk #3 within the "Follow Me" series will be posted this afternoon. Check back to listen to how we can practically begin to follow Christ!

What do you think of when you think of Saint Thomas the Apostle? Many of us think of doubt. Saint Thomas the Apostle is most popularly known as "Doubting Thomas" because of his insistence that he must see the risen Lord in order to believe (see today's Gospel reading from John 20). But, did you know that Thomas was a missionary and martyr? Did you know that Thomas eventually said "yes" to God's invitation to peach the Gospel in the East as far as India? Did you know that Thomas' witness led to the conversion of the King of India? Did you know that Thomas was martyred for the Faith, standing bold for the Lord without doubt or question?

I think a lot of people get a bad rap in the Bible. Most of us label Thomas as a doubter. Many of us label Martha as a doer. Poor Peter is stuck with the reputation of being dense and stubborn. However, I love them. I love their humanity. I love their honesty. I love the way I see myself in them. Sure, Peter was a knucklehead at times, but at least he shared his thoughts with Jesus. Martha may have been worked up with emotion, but at least she was honest with Jesus. Thomas, may have had doubts, but he was the only Apostle who was courageous enough to admit them. You see, each of the aforementioned disciples experienced the same type of struggle as those around them. Here's the difference: they knew where to go with their struggle.

Peter was gripped with grief after Jesus informed the disciples that he must suffer death in Jerusalem. But, notice ... where does he go? Peter went to Jesus when he said: "God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you." (Matthew 16:22) Poor Martha. Luke 10:38 reads: "Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, 'Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.'" Okay, Martha is upset, but where does she go? She went to Jesus and had an honest conversation with him.

And, then today there is Thomas, poor Thomas. He is grieving, as are all of the Apostles. Longing to see Jesus again he laments: "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 20:25) Okay ... Thomas missed out on the party and wants to Jesus himself; however, where does Thomas go with his doubt? He eventually goes to Jesus ... and once he does his life is changed. No more doubt, no more fear. Convicted and transformed because of the encounter, Thomas eventually ships off to India. Later, when facing brutal martyrdom Thomas will not backpedal; he will not doubt, for now he knows where to go with his emotion.

None of us are perfect ... thankfully, neither were the Apostles. They had questions; so do I. They stumbled; so do I. They got it wrong; so do I. What they teach us is not perfection, but fidelity. In other words, they teach us where to go once we stumble, question, or fail. We go to Jesus. We are honest with Jesus. We share our hearts ― without holding anything back ― with Jesus. Again, to quote the Catechism as I did yesterday: "Christian prayer is neither an escape from reality nor a divorce from life." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2727)

Where do you go with doubt? Where do you go with your dryness? Where do you go with shame or fear or anger? Most of us have patterns of turning in on ourselves. In moments of struggle we try to get it right because we're afraid God won't love us until we get it right. In moments of shame we try to clean ourselves up or distance ourselves from the sin because we're afraid God can't love us in our mess. In moments of doubt we try to figure it out either because God seems silent or we perceive we're supposed to know better. Turning in on yourself is never the answer.

Listen to me: I repeat ... turning in on yourself is never the answer. Jesus never desires us to do anything apart from Him. "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. ... Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me ... because without me you can do nothing" (John 15:1, 4, 5)

No matter what's on your heart today ― take it to Jesus. No matter what's going on in your life today ― take it to Jesus. No matter what you think Jesus couldn't take ― take it to Jesus. Happy feast day. Today we know where to go.

Where do you take your questions? Where do you take your unrest? Where to you take your emotions? What is Jesus asking for today?

© Fr. Mark Toups, 2013

In preparation for the 4th of July:

Today at IPF:

Today, the 169 seminarians in the Seminarians Summer Program finish the class, "Celibacy and Sexuality." Today the men will learn more about the complementarity between marriage and celibacy. In other words, what can celibate priests learn about celibacy by learning from married couples ... and what can married couples learn about marriage by learning from celibate priests?

The 22 priests and seminarians here for the Spiritual Exercises are on day 5 of the 30-day retreat.

Today's Quote from Pope Benedict XVI:

"With God, even in difficult times or moments of crisis, there is always a horizon of hope: the Incarnation tells us that we are never alone, that God has come to humanity and that He accompanies us."
― Shrine of Loreto, October 4, 2012