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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle

Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with the other disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe." Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe." (John 20:24-29)

I've always had a certain sympathy for poor Thomas. I mean, I'm an engineer by training: data, facts and concrete performance have long been my stock and trade.

But faith is a whole different ballgame. Thomas asked for unequivocal proof of Jesus' resurrection and divinity, and got it; but we have to muddle along on blind trust, don't we?

Or do we?

Isn't it possible that faith, perhaps, may be built up over time?

If someone tells me, for example, that his glasses "just fell apart," I want to look over the pieces and see if I can determine what might have contributed to the supposed spontaneous disintegration. Sure enough-- signs of metal fatigue at the breaking point indicate bending, however unintentional. One or two, or even ten or twenty, small stresses on a nose bridge wouldn't produce that sort of separation; you'd never know that the pressure had ever been applied. But those same small repetitive flexing motions, over a period of months or years, are an explanation for the sudden, unexpected snap.

Perhaps, faith is like that. Like the gradual stretching and strengthening of atomic bonds. Little moments of grace, small blessings and habits, that then build to realization, and revelation, and trust... and belief, as life-altering as the irreversible change in a pair of old glasses.


Blogger Dawgdays said...

Being an engineer myself, I crawl into this metaphor and wear it like a coat.

Faith was a long, long time coming for me. Belief is still a work in progress.

I sense God at work, bending and shaping, pushing hard enough that I don't spring back to where I was, but to a different place. I'm stretched, challenged, ultimately stronger in faith.

But I also sense that God wants my belief to be flexible, based in relationship, instead of focusing on a bunch of rigid rules, hard and brittle.

So as I say, a work in progress.

December 22, 2004 10:28 PM  

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