The month of July sees the anniversary of my ordination. It fell on St Thomas’ day. As the apostle is often referred to as “doubting Thomas”, it struck me as interesting day on which to mark the occasion when one’s decision to respond to the call to follow a particular vocation within Christian ministry effectively comes to fruition.
However, I think Thomas is unfairly maligned and miscast. The occasion which caused him to be dubbed as “doubting” was the evening of the day of resurrection, when the other apostles had physically seen the risen Jesus, but he had not. I suspect that many of us would have been similarly questioning had we been in the same position. In fact, elsewhere in the gospel account Thomas is seen to be both courageous and pragmatic. And it is commonly held that after Jesus’ ascension, Thomas took the Gospel to South India.
But if we stick with the term “doubting” Thomas, it might help to inject a little realism. In our Christian life we all face a range of experiences and emotions – some of them deep and traumatic. It would be a mistake to pretend that Christians never have any moments of doubt or despair. Indeed many a Christian leader has gone through times of deep darkness, but has finally held on to the faith – or, perhaps more accurately, has found that Christ has held on to them.
Ordination on St Thomas’ day may have been more appropriate than it first seemed.