Readings are here.
Thomas is mentioned twice in the Gospel of John. In the passage we read for today and in John 11:16. In the earlier appearance, Thomas is a man of action. Jesus' disciples think they should all stay away from Jerusalem and not go to see about Lazurus death because they are afraid of being killed. When Jesus says he is going anyway, Thomas says " "Let us also go, that we might die with him." It is clear that Thomas is brave and loyal to Jesus.
Thomas is also the patron saint of builders and architects. He is believed to have traveled to India and was the founder of the Mar Thoma church. It is these traditions that make me think he was a man of action and a practical man. Designing and building take knowledge. One cannot just put anything up and hope it will hang together. A builder has to know how things interact and how to make things stable and lasting. When we had our next house remodeled - it was discovered that the person or persons who had owned it before had built it with bits and pieces he had salvaged from the beach -- odd sheets of plywood salvaged off the beach, pieced together, police barricade boards tying the roof beams together. If we were to live in for the future - it had to be taken apart and rebuilt -- the contractor took out everything except the underfloor and the roof. Now the rooms work together instead of being a series of rabbit warrens - and the house is sturdy in the storms of the coast. Our builder knew what was needed. That is how I see Thomas. A person with the practical skills and the knowledge to put it all together.
Thomas in the passage we have today wants proof. His practical, action oriented personality cannot believe that which he has not seen, even though all his friends say they saw it. When Jesus appears Thomas does not really need to put his hand on the wounds - he is stunned and believes saying "My Lord and My God" - taking the story to a whole new level - this is "God" in their presence.
I think we need Thomases in our time. People who do not get swept up in the latest fad or alarmist news story. People who take time to check the facts. To see for themselves. Who do not take something as true just because "everyone" says it is or acts like it is. Thomas is not a doubter or unbeliever in the long run - he is a person who says "hold on" "wait a minute" "let's check this out." He does not refuse to believe but wants more information.
The wonderful thing about God is that we are met wherever we are on our journey in faith. God speaks to everyone regardless - the mystic who is seeking God in meditation and prayer, the Thomas who needs more proof, the unbelieving who live in faith nevertheless, those who are just born with an innate sense of belief, those who follow an ethical compassionate life regardless of belief systems. God is open to all. Jesus says in this reading "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." It is an easier path - but not the only one. Thomas demands to see the nail wounds and Jesus obliges him.
Praise God in his holy temple; *
praise him in the firmament of his power.
2 Praise him for his mighty acts; *
praise him for his excellent greatness.
3 Praise him with the blast of the ram's-horn; *
praise him with lyre and harp.
4 Praise him with timbrel and dance; *
praise him with strings and pipe.
5 Praise him with resounding cymbals; *
praise him with loud-clanging cymbals.
6 Let everything that has breath *
praise the LORD.