St Thomas the Apostle

(entered heaven around 74)

Dear Tom,

One of the secrets to prayer is honesty, which, as I can see clearly from your latest communiqués, you need a lot more of.  You can’t approach the Lord saying only what you think you are “supposed” to say. First of all, you’ll get bored very fast, and fall into a routine, and soon you will have no desire to spend time in prayer at all.  You (and me too, everybody, for that matter) need to put your heart into your prayer. You need to tell God what’s happening in the depths of your soul. Let him in! He’s dying for you to trust him as a true friend, an intimate confidante.  That’s why he came to earth in the first place. Of course, this takes courage. It’s a risk to bare our hearts – especially to God, who will most likely have a demanding solution for our problems. You should ask today’s saint for help on both these qualities (honesty and courage), which he demonstrated in abundance.

Towards the end of Jesus’ public ministry, the Pharisees and Sadducees had put a price on his head.  So the Apostles naturally assumed that they would lay low, keeping away from crowded public places (like Jerusalem and its environs).  But when Jesus received word from Martha and Mary (the ones who lived with their brother Lazarus in Bethany and who were good friends with the Lord) that Lazarus was dying, he determined to go right into the hornets’ nest (Bethany was on the outskirts of Jerusalem).  The skittish Apostles did their best to dissuade him (more for the sake of their own skins, probably, than for his sake), but he would not be deterred. Amidst the fearful complaints of the Twelve, Thomas’s boldness rings a noble note: “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”  That’s the attitude we all should have: total trust in God, total confidence that at Christ’s side nothing will do us lasting harm – that’s Christian courage.

But he also shows a straightforward honesty that we need to emulate.  During the Last Supper Jesus said, “Where I am going you know the way.”  Of course, the befuddled Apostles had no idea what he was talking about, but they were all ashamed to admit it (as if our Lord didn’t already recognize their confusion, even in their silence!).  Finally, Thomas plucked up his chutzpah, “Master,” he said, “We do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?” And our Lord rewarded his simple, trusting honesty with a summary of the entire gospel: “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”  After the Resurrection, Thomas kept up his exemplary frankness. He wasn’t with the group when Christ first appeared to them, and he found it hard to believe what they were telling him. He didn’t cover up his doubts but openly admitted that he wanted to see for himself. Once again our Lord honored his sincerity, appearing to them eight days later and showing his wounds specifically to Thomas, who then realized what the others hadn’t yet grasped, that Jesus was both “Lord and God.”

You see, my dear nephew, the secret to real prayer, real conversation with God, is honesty.  He doesn’t care about beautiful words and fine phrases; he wants your heart. Take courage, then, and give it to him.

God bless, Uncle Eddy

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