I think St. Thomas gets a bit of a bum rap in today's Gospel. Now the term "Doubting Thomas" is used against people we think are ignorant skeptics and it is poor St. Thomas who bears that moniker in history. But, really, was he skeptical of what the other Apostles were telling him? Rather, I think the verb doubting is really better replaced by believing, yet afraid to do so.
Let me set the scene. The Apostles are in a locked room - locked, because they have just seen their Master die in a particularly nasty way and, true to human nature, are afraid that the Jewish leaders have the same in mind for them. I think it is fair to say that Christ gave them enough warning over the persecution that they could face by being His followers, but the reality of such admonition has not hit them . . . until now. For those of us who served in the Armed Forces, there is a lot of bravado while in boot camp, but the first bullet whizzing by is a grim reminder to the commitment made. So too with the Apostles - take up your Cross and follow Me now has new meaning, and for some it will become literal.
But back to today's Gopel. Here we have a room of men, locked away out of fear of martyrdom, who already have been told that Jesus was risen . . . but by a bunch of women. Like it or not, the prevailing male attitudes of the time would see the ladies as unreliable witnesses and I am sure that one or two rolled their eyes and arched their eyebrows when the women recounted their story, looking at each other with the thought, must be that time of the month . . .
But Christ comes a-knocking and now they all get to see His Wounds, except for Thomas. Jesus could now say to them, "Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed," to remind them that they have been given the good news, yet find themselves hiding out, rather than proclaiming it aloud from the rooftops. But He doesn't, and lets them rejoice in His Resurrection.
And then leaves. Where is Thomas? Maybe now that the Sabbath is over, he has gone out to buy provisions.
St. Thomas: Thirteen. No, wait - we're eleven now . . .
So when Thomas returns and hears what the others tell him, is he skeptical? First, I think he may be a bit jealous - after all, when Jesus appeared "He showed them His hands and His side." The others got to see the Holy Wounds - it is Thomas who missed out and so says, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his handsand put my finger into the nailmarksand put my hand into his side, I will not believe."
Is he stubborn? No, I think what may be at play is the realization at what price the belief comes. It is Thomas who may be ready to go shout it from the rooftops, but knows that if he were to do that, the likelihood of him facing a wooden cross rises greatly. He wants to believe, but I think he knows what it will mean and in that fear, wants to be absolutely sure before he places his life on the line. Who here would not?
And Christ graciously gives Thomas that chance and allows him the chance to place his fingers in the Wounds. Christ's adminition, however, is not just for Thomas - it is for all of the Apostles who were collectively suffering from weakness in faith. Let's not just pick on Thomas.