Next Sunday we encounter Thomas the Doubter. The first point to note is that the story is told at all. After all, like Peter’s betrayals, it must have been embarrassing for these first followers and friends of Jesus to be portrayed in an unfavorable light. Even if they were both dead before written copies of the Gospels were in circulation these incidents must have been well known to the scattered church.
The second point to note is that neither Thomas, nor Peter, were excluded because of their failures. Thomas expressed his doubts that Jesus had risen but was back again the following week. He wasn’t shunned. Peter remained with the disciples after he denied he knew Jesus, was one of the first at the empty tomb -John defers to him and allows him to enter first – and stays with the company of believers until Jesus recommissions him by the Sea of Galilee: “Feed my sheep”.
The third point to note is that both men had the courage to live with their fallibility. They didn’t shrink away, or try to get their stories edited for publication, or make excuses. They are so unlike the sort of leaders we are used to and oddly we treat them better than we do our fallen heroes. They are unlike our leaders because they don’t make excuses or ‘air-brush’ their stories. We treat them better because we neither dwell on their scandals nor hold them against them.
The fourth point to note is that both ‘saw the light’ by direct encounters with Jesus. Thomas touched Jesus and found that although Jesus was transformed, his body was real enough: his wounds were still there. Peter eats breakfast by the lake with Jesus and is forgiven.
So if you doubt, reach out and touch those wounds. They are real enough. They were inflicted by you and the human race, but they have changed everything. Touch them and know that Jesus is Lord and God. If you have betrayed Jesus, look to eat with him, here, at Mass and hear him forgive and re-commission you to service.
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