Friday, May 2, 2014

Fr Georges Massouh on Thomas' Doubt

Arabic original here.

Beautiful Doubt

The subject of doubt is not tied to any person more than to the Holy Apostle Thomas. He is the one who, doubting the basis of the Christian faith, Christ's resurrection from the dead, said, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe."

However, when Jesus appeared to him, he believed in His resurrection and cried out "my Lord and my God." But Jesus said to him, "because you have seen Me, you have believed? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (cf. John 20:24-29)

But the truth of the matter is that all the disciples and not only Thomas doubted Jesus Christ. The Gospels tell us about the Apostle Peter's denying knowing Jesus three times in a row and of fear of all the disciples, their fleeing on the night Jesus was arrested and their going into hiding.... However, the disciple's doubt was followed, after they beheld the truth, by profound faith and total dedication that led in most cases to their offering themselves up as martyrs for God and the growing Church.

Here we must talk about Judas Iscariot and his betrayal that led to his hanging himself. In reality, all the disciples betrayed their Teacher when they saw him hanging like a bandit, tormented and crucified and their betrayal was not any less than that of Judas.

But what distinguishes them from Judas who "did not want to understand" is that when they realized the truth they felt remorse and repented, casting doubt aside and becoming sure that the one before them was none other than the Son of God, the Savior of the World. So they bore His name and preached Him throughout the inhabited world. The door of repentance was also open to Judas, but his despairing of God's mercy closed it shut.

The texts for Orthodox worship describe the position of Doubting Thomas as a beautiful position: "How exquisite is Thomas' beautiful lack of believing, since it brought the hearts of the faithful closer to knowledge!" Thomas's doubt was a beautiful doubt because it was a positive doubt that aimed to search for the truth and to submit to it. It was not a search for disbelief, no matter what the proof. Thomas' position was not obstinate, with no backing down no matter what the evidence. Rather, it was a search for rootedness in faith.

The certainty with which Thomas anchored himself was not merely a dogmatic certainty. It was not merely an intellectual confession... It was a certainty that produced a complete change in Thomas' being, pressing him to commit to all the requirements of life in Christ and to acting according to all His commandments and teachings and realizing His will on earth.

When Thomas confessed Christ as his Lord and his God, this meant total submission in word, deed and thought to this God who loved the world to the point of dying on the cross for its salvation.

Every sin that a person commits is indicative of his falling into doubt, perhaps even of his denying God's existence, because when one sins, one makes God absent from one's life.

As for certainty, its sign and proof is repentance, since it is a confession of God's existence and of His power to grant forgiveness. God does not seek a verbal affirmation of His divinity and lordship. God only seeks for a person to spread word of God's glory through his deeds and to announce through his repentance God's mastery over him and over all the earth.

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