How Doubting Thomas strengthens the faith of Christians, according to three great saints

St. Thomas the Apostle “The disbelief of Thomas has been more beneficial to our faith than the faith of all the disciples,” St. Gregory the Great said. | Credit: Guercino, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

On July 3, the Church commemorates St. Thomas the Apostle, who doubted that Christ had risen from the dead until the Lord himself appeared to him. While a lack of faith, according to three great saints, Thomas’ doubt actually had the benefit of confirming Christians in their faith.

The Gospel of St. John relates that when the risen Christ appeared to his disciples, Thomas was not present. When they told him they had seen the Lord, the apostle said that he would not believe until he touched the wounds of Jesus on his hands and side. Eight days later the Lord appeared to them again. This time Thomas was present and Jesus told him to touch his wounds, exhorting him: “Do not be unbelieving, but believe.”

St. Gregory the Great

For St. Gregory the Great, what happened was not by chance but the work of divine mercy “so that while the unbelieving disciple felt the wounds on his Master’s body, he would heal those wounds of our infidelity in us.”

“The disbelief of Thomas has been more beneficial to our faith than the faith of all the disciples, because while he, by touching, is restored to faith, our spirit is confirmed in it, setting aside all doubt,” the doctor of the Church explained.

St. John Chrysostom

St. John Chrysostom, a doctor of the Church and the patron saint of preachers, pointed out that Christ, seeking to save Thomas’ soul, appeared to him showing him his wounds. But he emphasized that this did not happen immediately, but eight days later so that “his desire was more inflamed and he was more faithful from then on.”

The saint also pointed out that the incorruptible body of the resurrected Christ kept the marks of the nails “to show them that it was the same body that had been crucified.”

St. Augustine

St. Augustine, another doctor of the Church, observed in a sermon that Christ took up Thomas’ challenge “not only for him but also for those who were going to deny the true flesh of the Lord.”

He pointed out that Jesus “wanted the scars to remain in his flesh to eliminate the wound of unbelief” in the hearts of men and for the signs of the wounds “to heal the true wounds.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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