Why this need to throw rotten tomatoes at Thomas, the Apostle of the Cross
(basically re-martyring him)?
We’re taught to revile Thomas as faithless, but in fact he has more faith than any of the disciples. He has so much faith that Jesus tests it by appearing to everyone else right when Thomas steps out of the room. He later tells Thomas that blessed are they who have not seen and yet believe. But who does he have in mind? None of his other followers, that’s for sure!
See, unlike Blessed Peter, the Apostle Thomas isn’t reproached for lacking faith. (None of the disciples call Jesus their “god”—only Thomas.) What Jesus says is that Thomas believes that Jesus has revived because he has seen with the eyes of the body. But the gospels make it inescapably clear that all the disciples saw Jesus resuscitated before they believed that death had not vanquished him. Thomas did not see Jesus die, yet the one who did (not counting women, since one did not in those days), John the Theologian, has been telling Thomas that he saw Jesus alive again, as has everyone else. These are the people Thomas has been living, eating and sleeping beside for three to six years. When you read the text for yourself, it doesn’t seem so much that he lacks in faith as that he “suffers” from depression, but a depression that may bear much edifying fruit (contrary to what the empire of then and now would have you believe). Thomas seems to really understand the message of the cross and the mystery of restorative pain and sorrow long before the other disciples are really at home with it—assuming they ever are.
I don’t think Thomas has a high opinion of his life, perhaps partly due to his chaotic time and place. Remember that this same Thomas (whose name means “Twin”) was the first to suggest that Jesus’s apostles should be martyred. Apparently Thomas—unlike Peter in particular—was catching on to the message of the cross and of accepting Jesus’s teachings without placing the ego first. You can just see him nodding, for example, at the teaching about the grain of wheat. Thus, I don’t find it far-fetched that Jesus would reveal special logia (or “Jesus-isms”) to Thomas, that a true Gospel of Thomas (however reviled by the imperial church) may very well be legitimate, however politiclaly inconvenient. You can tell Jesus is aching to teach plainly not just in parables, and once or twice he tries to lay out the flesh-annihilating truth to his closer disciples, yet when you’re outside of India you have to watch your Ps and Qs. (No wonder Thomas was sent to India! It seems likely to me that Thomas rendezvoused with Jesus in Kashmir after all the drama in Jerusalem, because he was the most interested in learning the way to follow Jesus out of the Levant, whether in the body or out of the body as it were.) Perhaps Thomas wasn’t a doubter at all—based on just the four medieval Gospels alone, I’d venture to say he was simply a contemplative…