These are the Great Fifty Days. The days following Easter when Christians remember and celebrate the precious and unique time when the risen Christ walked the earth, and when the disciples of Christ began to understand the great commission and gift they had after Christ ascended to his Father.
It should not come as a surprise that these were not completely happy days, for the Gospels telling many ways that the disciples were huddled in their homes, afraid of the authorities and confused about what had happened and what they were hearing from others about what had happened. There was faith, certainly, but there was also doubt. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that the Sunday following Easter is traditionally known as Thomas Sunday.
We know that Thomas was an apostle, his name, “Didymus,” means, in Greek, The Twin. But what we mostly remember Thomas for is that he would not believe that Christ had indeed risen until he had seen him for himself. When he had seen Him, he said to Him, “My Lord and My God.”
We all know the story from John’s Gospel. But I have always loved Thomas because, doubting though he was, he had faith enough still to be among believers, eight days later.
More than that, I think, I look with admiration upon the disciples who did believe. In that frightening time, even though one of their number doubted, they welcomed him back. Faithful though they were, the other disciples had love enough for Thomas to keep him, doubting all the while, within their community.
The loving patience of both doubter and believer embraced them all. Such love and patience have the power to embrace us all, as well: both believers and those whose belief has not become realized. Thomas’s journey from doubt to faith is the journey of every one of us.
We make the journey individually, with God’s grace. And we make it with each other, just as all the disciples did. With Thomas.
Fr Frank Fuller
St Paul’s Episcopal Church