Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
by Father Michael Savelesky, for the Inland Register
(From the , 2007 edition of the Inland Register)
Twinning is a fascination, really. Whether identical or fraternal, twins speak of common experiences – almost as if they lived in one another’s bodies.
Unless the one who reads this column actually is a twin, our personal experience of this biological phenomenon is guess-work at best. We do catch glimpses of the experience to which twins testify when, for example, we become uncomfortable or blush when public speakers lose their place, or make a terrible mistake. We also experience twinning of a sort when we find ourselves clearing our throat as public speakers embarrassingly struggle with their own impediments to clear speech. An experience which seems at first glance to be far removed is, upon further reflection, part of our personal world after all.
Aware of our own relatedness to twinning, we most readily can see more of a reflection of ourselves in one of the resurrection appearances of Jesus. The Church directs our prayer each Easter season to the well-known story of the Doubting Thomas who refuses to believe that Jesus is raised from the dead unless he can touch the very places where the nails and the lance have done their damage. Thomas needs to see, and won’t budge an inch until he does.
Thomas – the Scripture makes a point of telling us that “the name means ‘twin,’” – comes to faith because he sees. Jesus appears to him, but uses the occasion to bless and affirm the faith of those who have not seen, but who have believed. Who is this “they” if not the twin of Thomas? The twin is us.
Almost as if walking in the person of Thomas, we tend to struggle with the same doubt and hesitation to believe. The doubt is not so much an intellectual questioning of the historical reality of this man Jesus as it is a deep hesitancy to give our selves, our hearts, over to him. We prefer to draw secure parameters around our gift of self to God. We desire a relationship with God, yes, but on our own terms, in our own time, on our own turf. We want to be in control. We use “not seeing” as our excuse to not give. Jesus – even the Risen Lord Jesus – lived 2,000 years ago, our minds argue. We will not believe until and unless we see him today in our very own homes. And since he does not appear as he did to Thomas, we tend to justify holding back, our hesitancy to let go and give of our hearts.
Should any one of us be graced with an appearance of the Risen Lord, I wonder if it really would make that much difference. We would then see, but would we believe? The fleeting experience of glorious manifestation would be a relative flash of experience. Within a brief span of time, we likely would even question its reality. It would prove little to us that would be life-transforming. To believe under such circumstances would not be an act of faith. It would be a response to an event.
If anything, faith is a free gift. In fact, to believe – to give my heart – is the most profound of human activities. If I believe, I must freely give of myself in love. The gift is unconditional. It is not coerced or evoked by displays of power. In believing, I personally and freely choose to open myself to God at work in Jesus. I open my heart to one who is not a dead memory but a living Savior.
Unlike Thomas, our twin brother, we are blessed because we believe, even if we have not seen. Like our twin, we may find ourselves struggling with faith. We need not be like him, however, in spelling out the conditions.
(Father Savelesky is pastor of Assumption Parish in Spokane.)
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