LOW SUNDAY AND DOUBTING THOMAS
Fr. John E. Taylor (RIP)
I hope you’ve got past calling this First Sunday after Easter Day “Low” Sunday. There’s nothing “low” about today. Coming as close as it does to Easter Day, Queen of Feasts, should make this Sunday second highest, rather than low. There is one person for whom this day was undoubtedly the highest point of his life – that is Thomas the Apostle, known as “Doubting” Thomas, or Didymus, meaning “the twin”.
In John 20:24-29, Disciple Thomas was absent when the risen Jesus appeared to the Ten others in the Upper Room Easter night. When Thomas returned and was told how he had just missed Jesus, he voiced doubts that Jesus had returned to life. “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails,” Thomas objected, “and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side” – a Roman soldier had pierced the dying Jesus’ side with a spear – “I will not believe.”
A week later (on what has been known as Low Sunday) Jesus returned when all the Disciples, except Judas, were present and said to Thomas, “Reach hither thy finger and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing.” Thomas replied, “My Lord and my God!” – and, doubtless, fell to his knees in worship.
Allow me to underline a few lessons from this episode. Rather than scold Thomas for his lack of faith, Jesus gives him a second chance to grasp the Truth. Similarly, when you and I doubt the divine power or love, if we ask God to increase our faith in His Providence, He will do it.
Oh, make but trial of His love,
Experience will decide
How blest are they, and only they,
Who in His truth confide.
Though lacking in faith, Thomas had learned that the marks of his Lord were not a crown, a sword, nor an army, as they at first had expected. Instead the marks of the King Messiah were marks of suffering – nail-prints in hands and feet, a spear-hole in His side.
Hath He marks to lead me to Him,
If He be my Guide?
“In His Feet and Hands are Wound-prints,
And His Side.”
The last of the many other lessons I shall mention is that Jesus invited Thomas to TOUCH Him – to LAY HOLD on His Divine Person! – to be united with Him! In our daily struggles against temptation and other evils, our Master invites you and me into a firm and loving embrace of Himself, hanging on for dear life like Simon Peter as he began to sink in the storm-tossed waters of the Sea of Galilee.
Jesu, grant me this, I pray,
Ever in Thy Heart to stay;
Let me evermore abide
Hidden in Thy wounded Side.
No Sunday of our lives shall ever be “Low” Sunday. Sunday is the Lord’s Day.