Sunday, July 4, 2010


Just as St. Peter represents the common man, the Everyman of faith, willing to dive right in, misunderstanding at times but zealous for the love of God, St. Thomas represents that aspect of us all: the times when our faith comes into question: “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” (John 20:25) How many of us have the "unless" clause attached to our faith? This is somewhat understandable. Rational and empirical philosophy has permeated our society and the way we think, since the 19th century. Most people have a concept of faith that unless we can see, touch, feel and put it through a series of experiments it doesn't exist. Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) wrote "A Concise Dictionary of Theology refers to three different types of assent, taking its distinctions from John Henry Cardinal Newman. Many of today’s Christians “believe” with notional assent, meaning they accept the abstract ideas of the Truth, but without fully being touched and changed by it, or, put more practically, without living according to the Truth. However, the belief of true faith requires “full assent to truth, especially concrete rather than abstract truths”.[1] This real assent is the assent of faith which the early Christians claimed when they stated “I believe.”

Jesus of course shows Thomas that the Truth is standing in front of him whether he acknowledges it or not: Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, 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; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, 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 believed.John 20:26-29

Ratzinger goes on to say "Contrary to scientific knowledge or other types of certainty, the assent of faith comes from a personal encounter with God. He reveals himself to us, and we respond with the assent of faith. “Through being touched in this way, the will knows that even what is still not ‘clear’ to reason is true” and it assents to faith in God. “When the heart comes into contact with God’s Logos, with the Word who became man, this inmost point of his existence is being touched.”[4] Or, put another way, “just as a person becomes certain of another’s love without being able to subject it to methods of scientific experiment, so in the contact between God and man there is a certainty of a quite different kind from the certainty of objectivizing thought.” [5]

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