What is living faith? It is not what is often called “religious belief,” in the sense of a kind of knowing of religious teachings, or in reciting the words of creeds. Nor is real faith “a belief in the Bible,” knowing and quoting biblical verses. Again, living faith is not in any way another form of ideology or special knowledge. Rather, faith is not knowing, but unknowing. It is self-forgetting trust by which the human being opens up his heart and mind to the presence of God. In this opening of the soul, one lovingly casts oneself upon the Presence of the God who is mercy, goodness, love, truth. The soul becomes flooded by divinity.
Today we hear a beautiful Gospel story on the Apostle Thomas’ growth in faith. We know that before the Risen Christ appeared to Thomas, he loved God, but “through a veil,” without a living union. Out of disappointment in the failed Messiah (Christ), Thomas demands to see and to touch Jesus after he was crucified, before he will “believe.” Then Jesus Christ appears to Thomas, speaks to him heart to heart, and moves the awe-struck man to acknowledge, “My LORD and my God!” As the Fathers of our Church wrote many centuries ago, “Thomas saw one thing, he believed another; he saw the man Jesus, he believed God.” Faith connects to God who alone can fill heart and mind with His Presence. The Risen Christ opens up Thomas to the divine reality, so that Thomas and Christ become one in spirit. Thomas is not crying out to an external deity, to a body standing in front of him. Rather, he is speaking to Christ now within him as LORD and God. Faith has grown into a real union of love, in which Lover and Beloved are one. The oneness is not external, not physical, but “in the soul,” in the decisive center of Thomas’ being.
After such a life-giving experience of genuine faith, Thomas carries Jesus in him wherever he goes. Thomas has become an apostle: one who has seen the Risen Christ, and been sent by him to help move others to experience the Risen Christ’s presence. It is not a religious belief at work in Thomas, but a faith-union filled with love, peace, and joy. Christ Jesus, filled with the Father, fills his disciples with the same One. Such disciples are truly “the Body of Christ,” the very presence of Christ in the world.