“Seeing is believing” is not the lesson from today’s
gospel; to think this way is to short change Jesus and Thomas.
No, the lesson is “Acting is believing;” let me explain.
It was no ill-timed mistake of Jesus that he appeared in the Upper
Room when Thomas was absent. He had a point to prove. He knew
the apostles and those who were with them all-too-well. One visit
from the Risen Lord just wasn’t going to do it. The apostles
were an obtuse group who, sometimes, just didn’t get it.
This was the reason for the calculated move on the part of Jesus.
To understand this, let us put ourselves in the sandals of Thomas.
In the Upper Room, the apostles had gathered for the Last Supper
Thursday evening. I’m sure there were some left over provisions
from the dinner that night, but nothing that could sustain them
for three days. Sunday morning some of the apostles had run out
to see the tomb only because Mary Magdalene had made them go.
They must have rushed back in bewilderment and locked the doors
figuring that they were going to be accused of stealing the body
of Jesus. By the time Sunday evening rolls around, there is nothing
left for them to eat and drink and so Thomas is sent to find food
and wine. It is at this point that Jesus appears.
When Thomas returns, he finds the doors to the Upper Room locked
as when he left them. He gives the secret knock and the others
let him in. Imagine what Thomas is thinking. He is at first astounded
by the news of the visit of Jesus, but then he thinks that this
must be some cruel joke. Why wouldn’t Thomas believe? He
didn’t believe because seeing the Risen Lord made no difference
in the actions of the disciples gathered in the Upper Room. In
the mind of Thomas, it is not seeing that is believing. No, for
Thomas “Acting is believing.” If those in the Upper
Room truly believed that the Lord had been raised, they would
have unlocked the doors of the place where they were. There should
be no more fear. There should be no more staying in one place.
Belief in the Resurrection calls us to act, to do, to make a change.
This is why Jesus had to appear the second time with Thomas present.
He knew the apostles would be a little slow on the up-take.
Does your belief in the resurrection cause you to act differently?
Or are you still locked in the upper room of prejudice, hate,
lack of forgiveness, and indifference? How does belief in the
resurrection change the way you act? In the eyes of those of the
world, seeing may be believing, but in eyes of those who follow
the Risen Lord, acting is believing.