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Thomas

Sacred 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 of Juda. 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 apostles.

"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."

Pain 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 believed."

In 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. . It 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 honored today.

St. Thomas feast day is December 21.

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