Thursday, July 3, 2014

St Thomas, My Namesake

Bring your hand and put it in my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe
Jn 20:27
What will it take for YOU to really believe; to be CERTAIN of Christ’s presence in your life?
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Some of my friends know of the miracles in my life.  They say I am so blessed.  Yes, indeed.  But one is astounded at the very concept of miracles, and when she hears of one today all she can say is: “How strange!”  Yes, indeed, it is strange that God should love us, (and even me!!) so much.
I used to be ashamed of St. Thomas, the apostle, and his unbelief.  I deliberately took St. Thomas of Aquinas as my namesake, my model in my youth; I didn’t want to be thought of as one who doubted.  But, with age there comes wisdom.  I realize, now, how much the apostle and I are alike.  And so this day, his feast day, I prayed to him.
I always pray that I might live my life as a servant of Our Lord, being who He created me to be, imitating what HE would do, to be “an instrument of Thy peace.”  Some days He gives me consolations (sometimes, even miracles!), and an awareness of His presence, and it gives me great joy.  Yet even in that joy, there is that temptation of my thinking that it is somehow deserved: “Yes, perhaps in some small way I really am successful in imitating Him.”  Pride never leaves me alone.  Yet if I think on these matters, --- and, better, if I pray on them --- I can see the truth of things.
What do I really think about my imitation of Christ --- and indeed what do I think about ANY imitation?  That cheaply-made foreign copy of a Ford-designed vehicle --- what do I think of that imitation?  And what of the imitation artwork I so often see, plastic statues or fuzzy pictures, or even what of imitation sugar?  “Not as good as the original,” I think.  “That’s crap,” I often say.  And what do I think about imitation gods that we are counseled against?  “I don’t worship those,” I say.  And therefore, what do I really think about my attempts at imitation of Christ and His life?  If I were honest, I would say “crap” again.  And relative to any joy at my efforts, should I ever take joy in crap?
How can I, on some days think I am worthy of God’s blessings on me?  I sometimes donate to a good political candidate, and celebrate his victory should he be elected.  What if eventually that politician should become president, and what if he one day returned to his home town and knocked on my door.  Opening it, seeing him there, and looking at all the cameras and reporters staring at me --- what would I say?  If he said: “This is one of the guys who helped me accomplish all I started out to do” --- how would I respond?  Surely it would be most humbly.  But what if the pope came to visit my town, and did and said as the politician did?  What would I say to him?  “Oh Holy Father,” I’d say, “Who am I that you should visit me?  I am no one important; just a servant.”  And I’d wish the cameras would go away.
Who am I, indeed.
And so, what if God Himself came to my door?  Would I wonder, as I sometimes do now: “well, perhaps I am imitating Him in some small way” and so His visit is justified?  No, if I REALLY realized God was at my very door, someone so much more important than any pope, I think I would REALLY say and mean:
Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof.
And then I would appreciate the feelings and humility of my namesake, St. Thomas the apostle, when Jesus asked him to put his hand in His side --- when He offered Thomas this consolation, this proof, of His existence --- and of His love.  Then I’d understand the meaning of true faith, and the humble plea:  But only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.
St. Thomas, please pray for me, that I might
believe without seeing, that I might act
without seeking consolations, and that
I might ALWAYS find joy in the Lord,
and in what He has done for me.

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