In our gospel today, we are presented with the intriguing character of Thomas, who was absent when Jesus appeared to the other ten apostles on Easter Sunday night. Thomas, you may remember, was the one who said to his colleagues emphatically, that he would not believe in a risen Jesus until he had the opportunity to put his hand into the wound in his side and his fingers into the marks of the nails in his hands. He got his wish seven days later in the gospel passage for today.
Thomas, we are told, is also called “Didymus”, which is the Greek translation meaning “Twin.” Why does John give the translation? Recall that wherever John appears in his gospel, he never uses his own name, but writes “the beloved disciple” instead. Rather than being a point of pride, this is a stylistic way of inviting every reader to place him or herself into the gospel narrative as the disciple loved by Jesus. The reference to Thomas as the “twin” could be another literary way of inviting any reader who has had doubts or needed a little extra proof to stand in as Thomas’ “twin.”
I confess I think Thomas is an outstanding example for Christians, especially young people in this day and age when it is so easy to be swayed by the influence and values of the world. Thomas was willing to stand up against the pressure of all his friends telling him what to believe. He had already shown himself to be a strong fearless individual earlier in John’s gospel when he encourages the others to put their fears aside and be willing to die with Jesus if need be (cf John 11:16). Years later, when all the other apostles were ministering in the more familiar Greco-Roman world, Thomas would go east and bring the faith to India.