Saint Brigid Religious Education
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Scripture has not passed down any information concerning the origin,
parents, or early life of Thomas. He was the first one of the Twelve to
enter the Gospels practically unnoticed, the leader of the silent,
almost mute, apostles. The first seven apostles had been mentioned
before their calling, but Thomas' name appears for the first time in the
lists of the apostles like
a ray of the sun on the edge of a forest,
which no one had noticed before.
Legend has it that
Thomas was an architect. Since the thirteenth century, artists have
associated the carpenter's square with this apostle, who has been made
the patron of builders. Scripture, nonetheless, suggest that he was a
fisherman, not a full-fledged owner of a business, as were Peter and
Andrew and the sons of Zebedee, but a helper. This supposition coincides
with other statements that Thomas came from a poor family of the tribe
Perhaps Thomas' restrained and insecure nature resulted from the poverty
of his daily life. Although his
apostolic companions stood on his right and on his left, Thomas
nevertheless remained almost alone and lost in the rank and file of the
"Now Thomas, one of
the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came." Why
not? Was it mere chance? "St. John was considerately silent and did not
mention why this apostle had left his companions. Too cruelly was his
hope shattered and torn from him. He was robbed of his trust. When
the other apostles in brotherliness and happiness brought to him the
alleluia of their joy and ecstasy, "We have seen the Lord!" Thomas
remained bitter. He was not about to take a chance and believe this
merely on hearsay. He was determined not to be deceived again. Then,
more than ever before, he was a skeptic and pessimist. "Unless I see in
his hands the print of the nails and put my finger into the place of the
nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe."
is the price of doubt and uncertainty. No one could help Him except the
Lord, God Himself. The apostle's salvation hung on the mercy of God.
"Peace be to you!" It was the Lord, the Messiah, the Redeemer! It
was Christ, the Master! His voice rang out through the closed room like
the first bells after a silent Holy Week. Thomas could not move or talk;
he was suddenly hot and afraid, suddenly sorry that he had ever doubted;
but he was full of joy to see what he had not believed. It was the Lord!
It was really and
truly the Lord! He alone could enter into closed rooms and closed souls.
For the sake of Thomas He had returned to show himself, for He is the
Good Shepherd who goes "after that which is lost, until he finds it."
And an apostles was so valuable to Christ that he came back to make
Himself manifest just for one. "Bring here thy finger, and see my hands;
and bring here thy hand, and put it into my side." The Lord's rebuke was
like a fragrant balm. "And be not unbelieving, but believing".
He saw the glorious
body of the risen Christ, and the red stains of His wounds in His hands.
He saw the wound of His side, the opening to the heart of God. He saw
the pierced heart like a glittering ruby gleaming through the precious
wound. This was enough. The sharp pain and joy that suddenly pierced his
own heart removed the necessity that he should first touch, then
believe, what he saw. he could no longer doubt. He believed. Besieged by
the tangible reality of the Lord, and even more by the love of the Lord,
which is the highest form of spiritual reality, Thomas fell to his
knees. He sobbed. He opened his soul to his risen Master, and poured
forth all his unspoken laments, unasked questions, pent-up feelings, and
silenced desires. "My Lord and my God!;" "Because thou hast seen
me, thou hast believed. Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have
legends he appears as the leading apostle in the Orient. Older accounts,
dating back to the
time of 253 speak of the apostolic works of Thomas among the districts
of Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Baluchistan. The accounts, teeming with
miracles, of Thomas' apostolic labors, are for the most part, purely
fantastic. Few apostles have been so heavily burdened with such
imaginative legends as the unbelieving Thomas. As Thomas continued to
farther into the neighboring kingdom he angered King Mazdai. Therefore
the king had him speared by four soldiers. It was
reported that several Brahman priests found Thomas praying in a cave
near his home and wounded him with a spear. The apostle dragged himself
out of the cave, struggled some distance to a nearby chapel and in the
presence of several of his disciples, grasped a stone cross. According
to an account noted by Marco Polo, Thomas prayed, "Lord, I thank Thee
for all Thy mercies. Into Thy hands I commend my spirit," and died of stab wounds on July 3, A.D. 72.
is possible that it has some connection with the large "Thomas Mountain"
near Mailapur, the alleged place of death, upon which a church in honor
of St. Thomas was built in 1547. On
the altar there is found the stone cross of Thomas with inscriptions
dating from the sixth to the eighth centuries.
So closed the remarkable career of a remarkable man, a man who should be
remembered not for being a "doubter", but for his faith and zeal.
The relics of this
apostle were taken to Edessa in the third century. Then they were
reported to have been taken, in the year 1258, from Edessa to Chios, a
Greek island. And later they were moved to Ortona, where they are still
St. Thomas feast day is December 21.