We doubt because of our scars, our wounds. Ask people why they do not believe in God they will come up with answers like 9/11, Auschwitz, sexual abuse in the Church, cancer, rape, natural disasters, family breakdown, being dumped, emotional depression or the pain losing a child. After all what kind of God allows these things to happen if he is supposed to love and care for us? Even those who have faith can struggle when faced with some of these things.
This forms the background to understanding why Thomas initially refused to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead. He had been so hurt, so disappointed at seeing his friend, his Lord and Master brutally murdered. All his hopes and dreams had been shattered in the process. He could not accept the disciples’ testimony because to trust and to hope again just seemed to be too risky. Therefore, Thomas responded by saying that he did not want to just see Jesus. He wanted to see and touch his wounds. He wanted to know that God takes suffering seriously and that he dealt with that pain. Thomas wanted to know that all the pain he had gone through was worth it.
Jesus obliged. He turned up and showed Thomas his wounds and invites him to place his hands there. Jesus was not only physically wounded by the brutal beating he took prior to being crucified. Jesus had also been emotionally scarred by the betrayal, denial and desertion of those who were his closest followers. In his resurrection Jesus could have decided not to have appeared before his disciples and chosen to start somewhere else. Perhaps another group would prove to be more faithful? Jesus could have also decided not to display any wounds. Yet he appears to his disciples to show that his pain was real. The wounds were still there but no wound was too great to prevent him from rising again. No wound was too great to prevent him from trusting and hoping again in the same group of followers who had badly let him down. He believed that they still had the capacity to be faithful witnesses.
The beginning of the Gospel tells us that the disciples were locked away in a room for fear of the Jews. Sometimes we can feel trapped by fear or emotional pain. We may feel conflicted, wanting to hope and trust again on the one hand but on the other hand it all seems to be too risky. Jesus comes into our midst at those times in our lives and offers us his peace. He wants us to know that whatever suffering we might be going through now is not the end. The message for us is that that we too can choose not to allow our woundedness to hold us back. We can rise above it as well. What we need to do is place our trust in our God who loves and cares for us.