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Deepening the faith through experience

The Church celebrates the feast of St Thomas the apostle of India on the 3rd of July. It is a day where all the Indians are proud of the fact that we are the descendents of the great apostle who was known for his courage, honesty and strength. He gave his life for the sake of faith and he is a great role model for us.

When we interact with the youth of today the often heard statement is that we do harbor a desire to pray somewhere in our hearts but we can’t somehow get around it. Or we often hear people say that they go for mass every day and have family prayers but they don’t feel any spiritual experience. Why does this happen to us? How can we change this? Our research leads us into Thomas in the Gospel. After His resurrection when Jesus appeared to the apostles, Thomas was missing and he missed to experience the risen Christ. Jesus appeared a second time to his apostles in search of his loving disciple to deepen his Christ experience. Here we can see that he strives to change himself from being called the ‘Doubting Thomas’ to a man of great faith. He believed that his faith should be based on seeing and touching the Risen Christ.

Jacob was alone that night when he sent his family and belongings across the river (Genesis 32:22). After fighting with the angel the whole night, he told the angel, ‘I shall not leave you until you bless me’. And Thomas’s faith resonates a faith like this. “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails and place my hand in his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). Faith should not be something that is only visible from out but it should be deep rooted in hearts and it should come from our hearts. We should have a desire and strive to possess a faith like this.

The scripture also tells us how to experience this Christ through Thomas. “Now Thomas, one of the twelve and called the Twin was not with them when Jesus came” (John 20: 24). The reason Thomas could not experience Christ was because he was not with the apostles. About the first Christians we read “All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14). And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts” (Acts 2: 46).

The beginning and growth of faith all begins with unity. Just like our body parts are united Christ is united with us. Jesus says: just like I am one with my father you must be too.

When we remember the father of our Faith on this day of the feast, let us grow our faith too in union with the Church and let us turn our prayers into an experience of Christ.

Fr. Charles Thoppil CST

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