The scholars of the Jesus seminar agree
that this story of the Doubting
which appears only in John’s Gospel,
is first of all a creation
for the community named after him.
That makes sense:
John’s community is
concerned with talking about Jesus
with people who did not even know anyone
who knew him—
60 to 90 years after the resurrection.
The scholars say that
this Gospel uses the word “see”
in its meaning of having insight,
perceiving the reality behind appearances.
In that sense, what happens to
Thomas in that Upper Room
is that he “sees”—he understands—
the truth of
As a result, he steps into faith.
He follows Jesus as a
response to an experienced reality,
not to a myth.
Yes, of course, Thomas doubted.
I would, too.
I remember October 1,
It was a First Friday, about 5:45 in the afternoon,
and I was
kneeling after communion
at Mass in the Chapel of the Newman Center at Ohio
I remember that particular day and time because
at that moment the
doubts about my faith and my religion,
which I had ignored for some
became more real to me than my faith was.
It was the moment that I
first honestly faced my doubts
and acknowledged that I had them.
It was a
profoundly shattering moment for me.
In retrospect, though, it was a moment
the moment that launched my adult search for God
and brought me
to the place where I am
The key to this gospel
passage for us
is not that Thomas has doubts
but that he refuses to
believe what the others tell him
because it contradicts his own knowledge and
Thomas has real doubts.
He just doesn’t “see.”
talks about his doubts.
When he has an experience of the risen
when he experiences that “ah-hah” moment of insight—
and he believes.
Would Doubting Thomas have come to experience
the risen Christ
if someone had told him he couldn’t talk about doubt,
as I was told in the 1950s and 1960s,
that it was sinful to even ask
questions about faith?
of our recent Church history
we’ve been told that it’s a sin to doubt,
our attempts to ask questions
and understand God and Jesus
greeted with not-always-gentle hushing up.
Bishops and priests have been
to keep quiet about their ideas.
Theologians have been
Women religious have been investigated.
As much as we like to
praise our modern scripture scholarship
as “enlightened” and “modern,”
have to acknowledge
that human thought and reflection
has been going on a
The people of Biblical times may have been poor peasants,
they knew how to make houses and clothes,
tend their flocks, grow their own
and dig wells for drinking water.
And they didn’t have Google to
look it up on.
The same thing
that happened to Thomas happens to us:
we have an experience of the risen
and our doubts turn into faith.
The experience isn’t always
like the story in today’s gospel.
Sometimes it’s a quiet
acceptance of a series of quiet insights.
Sometimes it’s a leap ahead
a fall back
and a leap ahead again,
like a car lurching along with a
Insights about God can come to us in unlimited and unique
We believe in our own experiences of what’s real.
and we believe in something that’s not real.
Most of the time,
though, we’re right,
and we believe in something real and,
when we act on
it—when we test it out—
we find out that it’s true.
like believing somebody loves us and finding out they
Most of the time, though, it’s wonderful, and it’s true.
believing we can get into college and being accepted.
Or believing we can
make a difference
and finding a way to do it.
Or finding a friend and
believing that we’ve found our life partner,
and making a
We are a community of
as the Acts of the Apostles describes the early Christians,
one heart and one mind—
we are like that.
That’s not to say that we are
all the same and think the same way.
Yes, we all do believe in the Divine
Presence that we call God.
We all believe in the message of
God-with-us, unique expression of the Divine Presence.
believe in the Holy Spirit,
in whatever image
or however we conceptualize
its/her/his force and power.
But we do not all believe in the same way;
did not come to our belief in the same way;
we do not celebrate our belief in
the same way.
We are not robots;
we are real people with unique life
and so we are really different—
each of us an expression of
that Divine Presence—
within the unity that we share as human beings
as children of the One
Doubting Thomas, yes, each
one of us!
Doubting Beverly, and Doubting John,
Doubting Sue, and Doubting
and Doubting… put your own name in there.
And because we
because we question,
because we attend to the signs of our
because we are open
to discerning the Spirit in our own
we are true believers,
each of us, all of us,
Glory be to God!
Holy Spirit Catholic
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West
Central Avenue (Washington Church)
Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH