Have you heard?

These words must have been whispered countless time in Jerusalem and surrounds after the events that took place there during the Passover.

“Have you heard about Jesus the Nazarene?” they would have asked and continued to recount the tale of how he was condemned to die, suffered, was crucified and how his disciples go around saying that He is risen from death!

As it goes with tales, the more the story is repeated, the more embellished it becomes. So I cannot blame old Thomas for having his doubts. I guess I would have doubted too.

This is why it is so remarkable that the different accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus and its aftermath, more or less correspond and complement each other. The appearences of the Risen Lord continue to strengthen faith in the Resurrection. It solves the mystery of the empty tomb. But some are not as easily convinced.

The wounded hands and side of Christ indicated the great cost of laying down his life. He who was sent by the Father now pronounces that the time had come for Him to send them out on their mission.

The promises which He had made during the Last Supper are now realised.

He greets them three times with the peace which he has promised at the Last Supper and the disciples found themselves full of the joy he had foretold would be theirs. In this way, he formally sent them out, breathing on them the Holy Spirit which He had pledged.

But Thomas was absent. After being told what happened, he could not believe it and said as much. In this gospel he has lacked trust before. Now he lays down rigorous conditions for his belief. He demands proof. Nothing short of touching the wounds of Christ will convince Him.

I would like to cut Thomas some slack. He needed to experience the presence of the Risen Christ and not simply go on hearsay. In this we can learn from him: The desire to see the Lord, to touch the Lord to be near the Lord, but not as a matter of curiosity or the current climate of racing to be first to share the news on social media, even though it is very often fake and unverified. There should be a genuine desire to be with the Lord for its own sake.

Let us return to Thomas. Christ did not abandon Him in that state because he too was destined to become a witness of the Resurrection. Christ came back for Thomas and offered up his wounds for him to touch. This evoked the kind of faith in Thomas that is required of all who would not physically see Jesus, those whose faith are independent of sight and signs, as it should be. That is the faith of the true disciple.

Christ knows our doubts, our hesitations and our conditions for believing. We can rest assured that He will not turn his back on us. He will come to us as He returned for Thomas. He does so now through the community of faith which He left behind and prayed for during the last supper.

Current world affairs and personal circumstances might tempt us to doubt that the Lord is truly Risen and that his offer of new life is universal. Thomas invites us to consider the fact that the Risen Christ was recognised by his wounds, his brokenness, his imperfections. It is there where we too should seek and find Him until we can proclaim: “My Lord and my God” and carry on with the mission he entrusted to those who believe in Him.