The National Catholic Review
The feastday of St. Thomas the Apostle is over, but there remains a consideration that is valuable for undersanding the Gospel of John, in which Thomas’s story occurs. The ’Thomas story’ is the story that completes John’s presentation of the Jesus event (John 21, while inspired Scripture, is a later addition to the Gospel; as such, it can be expected to have real ’punch’ to complete the Gospel. The story, in brief, shows Thomas as unbelieving that the statement that Jesus is risen, alive. He says, "Unless I touch him, I will not believe." When Jesus appears and asks Thomas to touch him, the logical conclusion should be that Thomas, touching Jesus, now believes. But that is not the conclusion. John’s conclusion is that Thomas says, "My Lord and my God". That is the proper, appropriate (and only reasonable) conclusion to meeting the risen Jesus. Thomas, as it turns out, is the (only) one of the Gospel who expresses the depth of who Jesus is. The entire Gospel has been at pains to have the reader confirm his profession of faith at Baptism; it has given many signs (and monologues of Jesus) to establish in the reader this deepest conviction, to know that Jesus is nothing less than the reader’s Lord and God. The two verses that conclude the Gospel (30 and 31) tell the reader this fact: the entire work of John has been written ’so that you may believe Jesus is Messiah and Son of God, so that, believing this, you may have life’. Thomas is the one chosen to close the Gospel, to express a belief that will result in eternal life - which, after all, is the supreme benefit John ultimately offers to anyone searching for it. In a sense, the Thomas story is not just a story, but THE story which expresses John’s reason for writing. John Kilgallen, SJ