He frequently gets a bit of bad press, but I always felt that I get St. Thomas. That rather negative appendage, Doubting Thomas, makes him sound petulant, stubborn. But who was it he was doubting in the moment? Not his Lord, but his fellow disciples—other people.
And can we blame him? That which was dearer to him than life itself had died: Christ—and his faith. His faith had died on the cross along with the one for whom he himself had lived. He was a dead man. The grief he experienced was greater than any grief we ourselves might know in the death of a loved one, however dear they might have been to us.
He must have thought the claims of a risen Christ from his fellow disciples to be a cruelty beyond bearing. He had not been there. He had not seen him. His faith was dead. Did they really think he should somehow have faith in them when his very capacity for faith had been murdered?
The experience of Thomas is what Tolkien called eucatastrophe, that indescribable joy known only after the last vestige of hope has died. Thomas was dead–and he was resurrected. His experience is the very prototype of what we call the salvation experience. To Thomas was given the most intimate knowledge of God by placing his human hand on the very wounds. And his are the words we whisper to ourselves when we receive Holy Communion: “My Lord, and my God!”