While Thomas refuses to believe without seeing, he should also be remembered as the one who gives the fullest declaration of faith in Christ found anywhere in the gospels. Fr Adrian Graffy reflects.
19 In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, 'Peace be with you,’ 20 and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, 21 and he said to them again, 'Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.’ 22 After saying this he breathed on them and said: 'Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.' 24 Thomas, called the Twin, who was one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 When the disciples said, 'We have seen the Lord,' he answered, 'Unless I see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe.' 26 Eight days later the disciples were in the house again and Thomas was with them. The doors were closed, but Jesus came in and stood among them. 'Peace be with you,' he said. 27 Then he spoke to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Doubt no longer but believe.' 28 Thomas replied, 'My Lord and my God!' 29 Jesus said to him: 'You believe because you can see me. Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.' 30 There were many other signs that Jesus worked and the disciples saw, but they are not recorded in this book. 31 These are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through this name.
Other readings: Acts 4:32-35 Psalm 117 (118) 1 John 5:1-6
The Gospel of John provides an account of the appearance of Jesus to the eleven in the upper room and a second account one week later (eight days in Hebrew reckoning). Jesus brings the gift of peace and the gift of the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus, who has died for sinners, ensures the gift of forgiveness for all those who will seek it, the forgiveness available to us through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The reluctance of Thomas provokes Jesus’ praise for those who believe without seeing. But Thomas should also be remembered as the one who gives the fullest declaration of faith in Christ found anywhere in the gospels: ‘My Lord and my God!’
Do I treasure the gospel as showing the way to faith and life? How does the experience of Thomas provide encouragement for believers? We pray for a deeper appreciation of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We pray for all those plagued by hesitation and doubt.
Rev Dr Adrian Graffy is a member of the Vatican Commission that takes a lead in Bible scholarship, interpretation and promotion in the Catholic Church.
Rev Dr Graffy said of his five-year appointment by Pope Francis in 2014: “It is an honour to be nominated by Pope Francis as a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. I feel humbled and very much look forward to being of service to His Holiness and the Church.”
He added: “A great deal has been achieved in England and Wales in recent years by many co-workers to advance Biblical scholarship and the provision of easy-to-use resources. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis for their efforts to promote understanding and love of the Bible, particularly through the publication of the teaching documents, The Gift of Scripture and the study guide to Verbum Domini, The Word of the Lord.”
Rev Dr Graffy received his doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1983. He taught for over 20 years in St John’s Seminary in Wonersh, and is Chair of the National Scripture Working Group, which is an instrument of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Fr Graffy is a past director of Brentwood’s Commission for Evangelisation and Formation and parish priest of Christ the Eternal High Priest in Gidea Park, Essex. Among his publications are the Gospel of Mark and the Letter to the Romans (Alive Publishing).
Listen to BBC Essex interview with Fr Adrian Graffy