("The Incredulity of Thomas," by Michelangelo Merisi da Carvaggio)
The Eighth Station--Jesus Strengthens the Faith of Thomas
Leader: O Risen Christ, Light of the world, we adore you;
People: You allowed Thomas to believe in the way he understood best.
Thomas had been absent from the other disciples when Jesus had breathed the Holy Spirit upon them. When they told him of their encounter with Jesus, Thomas just glared at them and did not say anything for a long time. He had no doubt his companions had experienced something--but wondered if their desire and wishes to see Jesus again had not clouded reality for them. Perhaps they had met someone who reminded them of Jesus and they wished it so. Perhaps someone had played a cruel trick on them. Perhaps they were so grief-stricken they were having delusions.
Thomas was still grieving terribly himself. He simply did not want to hurt any more than he was hurting already. He didn't want to hear these stories--it did not make his own pain any better. So finally, he growled back, "You know what? I don't want to disagree with you, but I just can't buy it, as much as I love and believe in you. I won't believe it until I see it--and I'd have to feel the nail marks and the hole in his side myself before I could even begin to believe it."
A week later, the disciples were again behind closed doors and Thomas was among them. Suddenly, Jesus was again in their midst! "Peace be with you," repeated Jesus. He looked squarely at Thomas, holding out his hands. "Thomas, put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt, but believe."
The Gospel of John doesn't say whether Thomas actually did touch Jesus--that is left up to our imaginations--but whatever did happen caused Thomas to exclaim, "My Lord and my God!" What is clear, though, is that Jesus understood exactly what it took to come to Thomas on his own terms--and he was perfectly willing to do that.
Leader: Jesus came to Thomas to the way of his own understanding,
People: Just as Christ can come to us in the way of our own understanding.
Leader: Let us pray.
(a brief period of silence is observed.)
Lord God, perceiver of all things,
Sometimes it hurts too much to simply accept and believe your truth.
Sometimes when our worries and fears overtake us,
the gentle touch of your loving hand sears our flesh like acid.
It becomes easier to doubt than to believe.
Remind us in those moments
that we are loved by a Son with nail holes in his own hands
and a gash in his side, a Son who cries and bleeds,
and will not ask anything of us in our pain
but to simply touch his own wounds and feel one with them.
Leader: Alleluia! Christ is risen!
People: The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!