The lectionary for this week includes John 20, the story of “Doubting Thomas.” As the story has it, Jesus’ disciple Thomas didn’t see an appearance of post-resurrection Jesus and declared that he wouldn’t believe in the resurrection until he could stick his hand in Jesus’ side. Thomas is often criticized for his lack of faith; but could his original doubt of the power of God have made his resulting faith stronger? The last thing we hear from him when Jesus appears to him and proves his resurrected self is “My Lord and my God.” I translate this roughly in modern parlance to “God Almighty, it’s true!”
A friend sent me a link to a modern Thomasinian conversion. A Canadian mother of 7, having refused to vaccinate them as recommended, saw all her children come down with pertussis. After refusing to believe in the power of vaccines to protect them, she converted when all of them got pertussis and the whole family was quarantined. She only believed when she had to deal with the sickened bodies of her children, the horrible coughing, the threat of death. Seeing is believing: she nearly added to the Slaughter of the Innocents.
The reality of disease and death is stark and frightening. Vaccines must seem to her like a miracle now. I imagine that mother is thinking along the lines of the father who exclaimed to Jesus, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”