Vicar’s Letter @
In July we remember our own St Thomas, whose feast day is July 3rd - Thomas the Apostle, also known as Didymus which means twin (though we know nothing of his twin. Thomas was a devoted disciple, and it’s a pity that he is primarily known as Doubting Thomas. That title is because of the gospel story about the resurrection appearance of Jesus to his disciples.
These disciples had been through a very difficult time – they had seen their leader, the man they believed to be the messiah, their saviour, crucified like – and with - common criminals. Their friend, their teacher, their leader for the past three years, the man with whom they had thrown in their lot, was dead. And they were desolated. We can only imagine their joy when they saw him alive and beside them. And they reacted with understandable excitement. Poor Thomas wasn’t with them, he hadn’t had the experience of meeting the risen Christ, and he didn’t believe them, or rather he said he needed proof before he could believe it. Thomas was a very straight forward character, no fuss or frills for him, he spoke his mind. What he wanted was only what his friends had already had. To call him a doubter seems unfair. And when he did see the risen Christ his response was a wholehearted hearted “My lord and my God” No grudging response this!
There are few other mentions of Thomas in the Gospels. Worth noting though is something he said to Jesus when (at the time of the Last Supper) Jesus was telling the disciples that he was going to prepare a place for them. Jesus said “You know where I am going”. Thomas said, in his usual blunt way, “we don’t know where you are going – how can we know the way?” And he got his answer.
Christian tradition is that Thomas went to India, indeed was the first missionary to India. Certainly there were Christian communities in India long before European missionaries went there. Many apocryphal accounts of his travels circulated in the early church. So we can see Thomas’ time as a disciple had a profound effect on him and led him on in his ministry, and he is traditionally associated with journeys.
So Thomas, who was straightforward, who spoke his mind and asked questions when he needed to, is a good model for us in the parish of St Thomas Leesfield, as we seek to learn more about our Christian faith, and to see the way forward for each one of us. I wonder where your journey will lead you?