Where there is doubt faith


Poor St Thomas, Apostle, whose feast we celebrated recently, can never live down that time he wasn’t in the room where it happened, when the risen Jesus first appeared to his disciples.

The room was locked, concealing the fearful followers after Jesus’ crucifixion, so we may wonder, where was Thomas? Why wasn’t he there, hiding with the others?

Maybe he was the only one brave enough to go out into the streets of a hostile city. We’ll never know.

What we know is the story in today’s Gospel from John, in which Thomas doesn’t believe his friends, thereby earning him the eternal nickname “Doubting Thomas.”

After Thomas says some gross things about sticking his fingers into open wounds, he is in the room when Jesus reappears, again moving through a locked door.

That alone might make a believer of anyone. Jesus invites Thomas to do the gross things, but Thomas doesn’t need to, instead uttering his immortal profession of faith, one we still say today: “My Lord and my God!”

When I used to teach Confirmation classes to high school students, I loved the doubters most of all, because they were thinking about faith, and they made me think.

When I was a kid, the bloody imagery of Thomas’s conversion made me feel a little sick, but I also remember his story making me feel a bit of superiority and certitude: “Jesus is blessing me. I haven’t seen, and I believe.” But I wonder now if I would have behaved more like Doubting Thomas had I been in his shoes.

Because throughout my life I have often been Doubting Valerie, not certain if anything I say I believe ever really happened, or even if my spoken belief really comes from my heart.

But I do know that my times of doubt have formed my faith.

  • Valerie Schultz is a freelance writer, a columnist for The Bakersfield Californian and the author of A Hill of Beans: The Grace of Everyday Troubles.
  • First published in America Magazine. Republished with permission.
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