Doubting Thomas or Thomas the Brave

The week the gospel reading is the great story of Thomas the Brave. We often call him other names like Doubting Thomas – but I think that is a little unfair. Let’s look at the story again.
A few days earlier (John 11) Jesus had said his friend Lazarus was asleep and that he was returning to Jerusalem. The disciples were shocked and afraid, but “…Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11: 16). Then Jesus is arrested, the male disciples scatter, and Jesus is crucified. Three days later Mary Magdalene meets the risen crucified Jesus in the garden and goes to tell the disciples that she has seen the Lord. They respond by hiding behind locked doors. We might call them doubting disciples. Thomas is not with them. Then the risen crucified Jesus joins then and gives them peace. They then find Thomas and tell him they too have seen the Lord. But he is not so easily convinced. He was willing to die with Jesus, but this is a whole different thing. He asks the hard questions – the questions many of us want to ask. Before he recommits himself to this life he wants to be sure. He is honest. Maybe we should call him Honest Thomas. When he meets the risen crucified Jesus he is again willing to die for him. Thomas the Brave goes the furthest of all the apostles. He leaves the relative safety of the Mediterranean and ends up in South India founding the Mar Thoma Church.
Thomas is the apostle for us. He gives us permission to ask our hard questions. He gives us permission to doubt.  He gives us permission to be honest, and shows us what can happen when we are.