Doubting Thomas“Doubt is my middle name.”

It is.

Thomas. The Doubter. The Twin. It so happens it’s a family name, and a bit of a family characteristic.

Thomas didn’t believe in the resurrection of the Lord at first. He was the last of the disciples to see the risen Christ; who knows where he was. If he was anything like me, and church tradition kind of supports this, he may have been busy in a study somewhere, with his nose in a book, trying to figure out what the heck just happened that his best friend is executed and his remaining brothers and sisters seem to have gone off the deep end. I can envision him ambling back to the rest of the disciples after an intensive session in his local house of learning … or perhaps a graduate seminar.

Nevertheless: he still kept faithful to the community of the others. And it is in the community that Jesus appeared to him and strengthened his faith. And, it was in this community that the risen Christ revealed himself to Thomas. The doubter. The doubter learned in the house that day, as I am ever being made aware, is that the Christ comes to us in revelation, not in seminars. And even more importantly, for me as for Thomas, he kept faithful to the community, in that place where Christ revealed himself to him.

Despite whatever doubts I have from time to time, the Lord continues to appear to me. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the times when my doubts were strongest were the times I was least involved with a community of other Christians, and when I’m strongest in my faith is when I’m with the community more. In times of doubt and/or unbelief, the community can carry us; it can carry me, and it can carry you. This is what faith is; it’s membership. Thomas was part of a community, one that had memories, and stories, a common language, a shared life history that bound its members together. Having faith is hanging onto that membership, even when you can personally doubt or have a hole in your belief that being a part of that life has any value anymore.

I think Thomas had that faith, even though he doubted, and it’s an example to me often.

And lastly: “Didymus,” which is the Greek name for Thomas, means “twin”. The Church Fathers commented that we are all really two people; a doubter and a believer. And like Thomas, we all need the support of our churches and family of believers to prevent our inner doubter from becoming dominant and killing our capacity for belief. I am grateful to be a member of this community, and of others, in which I share in our revealed and risen Lord.