Thursday, July 3, 2008

Feast of St. Thomas

Well if your name is Tom today is a special day for you. Each year on July 3 the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St. Thomas, the apostle.

In today's Office of Readings the second reading comes from a homily on the Gospels by Saint (and pope) Gregory the Great. It reads, in part:

Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. He was the only disciple absent; on his return he heard what had happened but refused to believe it. The Lord came a second time; he offered his side for the disbelieving disciple to touch, held out his hands, and showing the scars of his wounds, healed the wound of his disbelief.

Dearly beloved, what do you see in these events? Do you really believe that it was by chance that this chosen disciple was absent, then came and heard, heard and doubted, doubted and touched, touched and believed? It was not by chance but in God's providence. In a marvelous way God's mercy arranged that the disbelieving disciple, in touching the wounds of his master's body, should heal our wounds of disbelief. The disbelief of Thomas has done more for our faith than the faith of the other disciples. As he touches Christ and is won over to belief, every doubt is cast aside and our faith is strengthened. So the disciple who doubted, then felt Christ's wounds, becomes a witness to the reality of the resurrection.

In all matters, it seems, God is in control. Thomas just happened to be running an errand when Jesus shows up! How many times do we find ourselves in a situation that, in hindsight, we know was a direct result of God's promptings in our life? We are placed in situations that we would not have normally been in. Or, even odder, we are not somewhere we should have been and avoided some crisis.

How fitting is it, then, that circumstances were such that one of the disciples was not present when Jesus returned, only to be used to confirm through physical proof that the resurrection had really taken place. And through this proof, some 2000 years later all Christians know the story of "doubting Thomas" and because of his disbelief, believe!

From a recovery standpoint, how many newcomers do we meet who cannot believe that a 12- step program can bring them relief? And then the miracle happens and they not only recover but become the most vocal in a group when it comes to letting the next newcomer know that it works! As Thomas came to believe and supposedly went on to preach in Asia, so our believers in recovery go on to help the newcomer that follows for he now has proof that the 12-steps work.

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