Abridged and translated from Elfric of Eynsham’s Sermon on the First Sunday after Easter. The version given below is based on the translation by Benjamin Thorpe at this link.
The Apostle St Thomas refused to believe reports of the resurrection of Jesus unless he saw and touched the risen Christ for himself. Some scold him for his ‘doubt’, but the English Abbot Elfric (955-1010) warmly thanked him for demanding such clear proof, and noted that Jesus was evidently expecting it.
Except I put my finger
into the print of the nails,
and thrust my hand into his side,
I will not believe.
THOMAS’S unbelief in Christ’s resurrection was not unforeseen, but happened in the foresight of God; for his touch made believers of us. His doubt did us more good than the other Apostles’ belief. For when that touch brought him to belief, it carried our doubt away.
Christ could easily have risen from the dead with no scars, but he kept the scars so he could strengthen the doubtful. He said to Thomas, ‘Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed.’ Thomas saw the body and those scars, and believed that he who raised the body from death was God.
The words that follow fill us with great joy. ‘Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.’ This saying acknowledges all those who have not seen Christ in the body, yet hold him in the heart through faith. He truly believes in God, who with works practises what he believes. Belief without good works is dead.* These are the Apostles’ words; let attentive hearts absorb them.
* See James 2:26.
Abridged and translated from Elfric of Eynsham’s Sermon on the First Sunday after Easter. The version given above is based on the translation by Benjamin Thorpe at this link.