Saint Thomas the Apostleadmin | 21 December 2012
The collect for today, the Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle, from The Book of Common Prayer (Canadian, 1962):
ALMIGHTY and everliving God, who for the more confirmation of the faith didst suffer thy holy Apostle Thomas to be doubtful in thy Son’s resurrection: Grant us so perfectly, and without all doubt, to believe in thy Son Jesus Christ, that our faith in thy sight may never be reproved. Hear us, O Lord, through the same Jesus Christ, to whom, with thee and the Holy Spirit, be all honour and glory, now and for evermore. Amen.
St. Thomas’s name is believed to come from an Aramaic word meaning twin, but it is not known whose twin he was. He is included in all the lists of the twelve apostles, but he is mentioned most often in St. John’s Gospel, where he is called “Didymus” (“twin” in Greek) three times (11:16; 20:24; 21:2).
St. Thomas appears to have been an impulsive man. He says he is prepared to go with Jesus to the tomb of Lazarus even if it means death (John 11:16). At the Last Supper, however, he confesses his ignorance about where Jesus is going and the way there (John 14:5). In response, Christ said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
After the resurrection, Thomas was unwilling to believe his fellow disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead (John 20:24). He would not believe, he declared, unless he actually touched the wounds. Eight days later, Jesus gave “Doubting Thomas” the evidence he had asked for, whereupon Thomas confessed him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus then pronounces a blessing on all those who have not seen and yet believe.
The last mention of St. Thomas in the New Testament occurs in John 21, where he is named as one of the seven disciples fishing on the Sea of Galilee when the risen Christ appears to them.
Nothing is known for sure about St. Thomas’s activity after Pentecost, but early church writers say that he was active in missionary work in the East-–in Parthia, Persia, and/or India. The most ancient tradition holds that he journeyed as far as Malabar (present-day Kerala) on the south-west coast of India and was martyred at Mylapore, near Madras. A large number of Indian Christians in the area call themselves “Christians of St. Thomas“. (See also this.) Although the tradition that St. Thomas evangelized India cannot be definitely verified, Pope Paul VI declared him apostle of India in 1972.
Artwork: The St. Thomas stained glass window was made by the firm of James Powell and Sons, Middlesex, England, and installed in the Cathedral of St John the Baptist, St John’s, Newfoundland, in 1951. Photograph taken by admin, 7 September 2009.