REFLECTION FOR TODAY
July 3, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
“Put your finger here and see my hands and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” Jn. 20:27-29
The Apostle Thomas stands as a bridge between the eyewitnesses of the risen Lord on that first Easter morning and those of us who know the blessings of believing without seeing. Thomas must have experienced a whirling mix of emotions as he heard of the other disciple speak about their encounter with Jesus in his absence.
Thomas may have been angry with himself for missing out during this encounter. He may also have been confused and unable to reconcile the fact and the possibility of the resurrection to the extent that his mind was clouded with doubts. To what extent can we identify with Thomas today? The sorrow Thomas felt at not being present when the Lord appeared to the others left him with a certain bitterness rather than joy. This is the sin of envy. Envy is a certain sorrow over the blessings that others receive that we do not.
The absence of Thomas from this encounter with our Lord would have been by divine providence, in that God wanted Thomas to set for us an example. The one example Thomas set was that we must humbly rejoice in the blessings others have receive when we are not also the recipient. Of course, if Thomas were there, then it would have been easier for him to share in the joy. But, in many ways, Thomas’ absence provided him an even greater opportunity. An opportunity that he failed to embrace.
When you see others receive blessings from God, how do you respond? Many people respond by immediately looking at themselves, wishing they were blessed in the same way. They struggle with envy. They think, “I wish I had received that blessing.” This form of envy is not always easy to see. For that reason, Thomas is given to us as a witness of what not to do in this situation.
Of course, Thomas is not a horrible person, which is why Jesus does later appear to him. This time, Thomas spoke words of faith “My Lord and my God!” Jesus gently rebukes Thomas by saying, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” But this gentle rebuke was an act of love, in that Jesus wanted Thomas to ponder the reason for his unbelief. Jesus clearly wanted Thomas to examine the unbelief caused by envy, which appears to have led to an intentional lack of faith.
Reflect, today, upon this holy Apostle. Today, Saint Thomas the Apostle is among the great saints in the Kingdom of Heaven. God used him to teach us these important lessons about envy, humility and faith. Let his weakness, from which he fully recovered, help you examine your own struggle with envy over the blessings that others receive that you do not. Learn to rejoice always in the ways that God is at work in our world and learn to grow in humility, so that when others are blessed in ways that you are not, you react as Saint Thomas ultimately did: “My Lord and my God!”
Lord, You pour forth Your blessings upon others, day and night. As I see those blessings, help me to overcome all temptations toward envy so that I may rejoice in Your grace given to all. You are my Lord and my God, and I thank You for every way that You bless my life and the lives of those around me. Fill me with a deeper gratitude, dear Lord, for every grace and blessing I see every day, especially those graces not given directly to me. Jesus, I trust in You.