Today we hear once again those famous words from Thomas; “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hands in his side. I will not believe.”
Fair enough, you may think, well done Thomas for saying out loud what we and the disciples must all have thought at the time.
I think that all the disciples needed a certainty about whether Jesus was alive and the fact that Thomas was absent when he first appeared gives them another opportunity to require that proof, that concrete physical proof as it were.
Once again Jesus offers the opportunity for the disciples to reach out and come to him. Scripture doesn’t say whether Thomas actually puts his fingers in the scars, or his hand into the spear wound, but this is a direct command from Jesus and tradition has assumed from Jesus’ words that Thomas did take this step.
In the painting by Caravaggio, which is on our service sheet today, we graphically see Thomas’ forefinger entering the gash in Christ’s side. Indeed Christ is guiding Thomas’ fingers into the wound with his left hand, while his right hand pulls back the tunic that covers his chest.
Christ’s calm expression contrasts with the intense and surprised reactions of Thomas and the other two disciples (the figure on the left is most likely Peter with John next to him).
The dramatic tenebrist light further accentuates the moment in which Thomas encounters the bodily wounds of the risen Christ.
Caravaggio’s figures, are painted in earth tones, and are meant to be representative of the common man.
This painting by Caravaggio is most wonderful, he uses common people to show us this holy moment, no halos or angels bathed in light, just common folk, bathed in light and shade as is our life and in a very theatrical form, with simple and torn clothes. there’s a thought to ponder?
Notice the light on Thomas’ forehead, which gives us the insight that man receives enlightenment by Christs’ reflected light.
Notice too that Thomas is almost scientifically examining Jesus’ body, Christ not wanting to withhold anything from him, that too should speak to us today.
This picture does seek to answer the questions we all have thought, from time to time. For me, it helps me navigate my thought processes, we must have the confidence to “ask, seek and knock” as Jesus says in Matthew 7:7
In doing so the door of understanding, of enlightenment will be opened to us and out of this enlightenment we can then, like Thomas, say. “My Lord and my God.!”
Whether Thomas makes this response on behalf of the whole group of disciples or it is his own personal insight is not easy to tell. What is true is that group of believers is growing, first Mary Magdalene, then John and Peter, now Thomas.
But for each of them it is only the start, for revelation is only a beginning; how you make it live and breathe in your own being is what counts. Thomas took his new found knowledge of Jesus into his heart and carried it across continents into the heart of India.
Christ was his fuel for the journey, indeed the truth that Thomas told still lives on in India to this day.
This Truth told then now lives with us;
Where will we carry it, to our neighbours, our nation or perhaps even to our enemies?
One thing for sure is, this truth we cannot, must not and shall not keep it to ourselves.
Jesus Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed, Alleluia.
Let us Pray.
King of glory, while we doubt, we fail, we turn away, yet your faith in us remains strong.
May we experience that divine strength coursing through our souls and bodies and minds, so that our doubts may become the source of new knowledge, leading us to see you more clearly and be drawn into the heart of your love for all creation.