Preface of Apostles
PRAYER (traditional wording) Almighty and everliving God, who didst
strengthen thine apostle Thomas with sure and certain faith in thy Son's
resurrection: Grant us so perfectly and without doubt to believe in Jesus
Christ, our Lord and our God, that our faith may never be found wanting
in thy sight; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy
Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
PRAYER (contemporary wording)
Almighty and everliving God, who strengthened your apostle Thomas
with sure and certain faith in your Son's resurrection: Grant us so perfectly
and without doubt to believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, that
our faith may never be found wanting in your sight; through him who lives
and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
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THOMAS THE APOSTLE
(21 DEC NT)
Apostle Thomas (Hebrew or Aramaic for "twin") was also called
"Didymus" (Greek for "twin"). He was absent when the
Risen Lord appeared to the other apostles on the evening of Easter Day,
and refused to believe that Christ had indeed risen until he had seen
him for himself, but when he had seen Him, he said to Him, "My Lord
and My God." (John 20:19-29)
Because of this episode, he has been known ever since
as "Doubting Thomas." But we ought also to remember his earlier
words, when Jesus announced His intention of going to the Jerusalem area,
brushing aside the protests of His disciples that His life was in danger
there, at which Thomas said to the others: "Let us also go, that
we may die with him." (John 11:7,8,16) If Thomas was pessimistic,
he was also sturdily loyal.
At the Last Supper, Jesus said: "I go to prepare
a place for you.... And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know."
Thomas replied: "Lord, we know not whither thou goest, and how can
we know the way?" To this Jesus answered: "I am the way, the
truth and the life." (John 14:1-6)
Thomas is mentioned again (John 21) as one of the seven
disciples who were fishing on the Sea of Galilee (Sea of Tiberias) when
the Risen Lord appeared to them. Aside from this he appears in the New
Testament only as a name on lists of the Apostles. A couple of centuries
later a story was circulating in the Mediterranean world that he had gone
to preach in India; and there is a Christian community in India (the Kerala
district) that claims descent from Christians converted by the the preaching
of Thomas. The tradition among Christians in India is that Thomas was
speared to death near Madras, and accordingly he is often pictured holding
a spear. Paintings of martyrs often show them holding or accompanied by
the instruments with which they were put to death. A recently discovered
work called the Gospel
of Thomas is a collection of sayings attributed to Jesus. I know of
no scholarly support for the notion that it is the work of the Apostle
Thomas, but some scholars think that some of the sayings in it may be
authentic sayings of Jesus.
These things did Thomas hold for real:
the warmth of blood, the chill of steel,
the grain of wood, the heft of stone,
the last frail twitch of blood and bone.
His brittle certainties denied
that one could live when one had died,
until his fingers read like Braille
the markings of the spear and nail.
May we, O God, by grace believe
and, in believing, still receive
the Christ who held His raw palms out
and beckoned Thomas from his doubt.
(Thomas Troeger, 1984, Psalter/Hymnal of the Christian Reformed Church)
by James Kiefer