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St. Thomas, Apostle of India

“Blessed are those who have not seen but yet believe”

On 3rd July we celebrate the feast of St. Thomas, Apostle of India, who brought the “gift of faith” to the country, after his experience of “seeing and believing”

St. Thomas, “My Lord and my God” is not a mere exclamation (vocative) but is rightfully as “You are my Lord and my God” (see 1 John 5:20 & Rom 9:5) This is a profound profession of faith that is even today used at “consecration” by congregations countrywide, in adoration of the God we do not see, but believe in. Is so-called “blind faith” that blind?

Christmas, especially in south India, are blessed with vibrant vestiges of St. Thomas traditions: the Syrian rites, the “two Mounts” and St. Thomas’ tomb Cathedral, in Chennai (Tamilnadu), the bleeding cross, a relic of St. Thomas’ bone and the like.

All these provide devotees with the means to see, touch and “feel” the presence of St. Thomas as if he were alive, although two thousands years have elapsed since his martydom. Yet St. Thomas exhorts us to heed Jesus’ words, the last “Beatitude” in the gospels “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe”.

Like the Gospel the second reading 1 Pet 1: 3-9 extols those who have “eyes of faith”: “Without haveing seen him you love him ... as outcome your faith you obtain the salvation of your soul”.

Proclaiming the Lordship and Godship of Jesus is only possible when one has faith in oneself, in others, in Nature and in God.

Such faith does not come from seeing with the eyes or touching with the hands, or knowing with the mind, but from experiencing with one’s heart and savouring with one’s spirit.

In “the Daily Study Bible” written by William Barclay, in Vol. II of the Gospel of John, pg. 277 he writes about how St. Thomas arrived in India. He writes that after the death of Jesus, when the Apostles decided to “go and preach the Good news”, India fell by lot to Thomas and a merchant called Abbanes from India went to Jerusalem, sent by King Gundaphorus to bring a carpenter and Thomas was a carpenter and brought him to the king who commanded Thomas to build a palace and the King gave him money in plenty for the purpose and Thomas distributed it to the poor and built houses for them to live. The King asked Thomas that he wanted to see the palace and Thomas replied you can’t see now but when you depart from this life, you will be able to see it. The king was very angry and Thomas in danger of his life, but in the end the king too was won for Christ and so Thomas brought Christianity to India.