Saints Philip and James


1 Corinthians 15:1-8
John 14:6-14


It might be argued that Thomas’ principal service in the gospel is to show us that even the faithful have doubts. What is more, his story shows us that faith can exist without any need for ‘proof’.

That is, when he is at a distance from the community and alone, he demands to see and feel evidence of the resurrection before he will believe. However, when he is once more united with the community of believers, and encounters Jesus risen, he no longer needs physical proofs – he declines the offer to place his hand in Jesus side or touch the wounds. He ‘knows’ at a different level – the level of faith (supported by the faith of those who surround him).

Thomas shows us a familiar pattern, understandably human and instinctive. Who has not been tempted to ‘feel’ or ‘touch’ the wet paint on the park bench – to see if the sign is really true!

Faithful living is holding a tension, it is a ‘knowing’ without surrendering to the desire to underscore one’s knowing with further evidence.

On the other hand, faithful living is not so ‘other-worldly’ as to make Philip’s question valid either. It is not so much a matter of some exceptional revelation that enables faith – we do not suspend belief till we encounter something miraculous or of a celestial order. Again, we might find the thought of a dramatic, celestial intervention to be comforting and awe inspiring, but it may not guarantee faith.

No, faith is a gift, albeit one that finds its origins in a different order of reality.

In Jeus own understanding, and in his message to us today, faith grows from relationship. It is a gift, and as Jesus also implies, it is one that comes from knowing him. Not a knowing in the academic sense (valuable as that is), but a knowing at the level of a trusting relationship.

The dimensions of this trust are clear in his teaching. Faith grows as a result of listening to the words he has spoken and trusting the works he has done for us. It is a knowing him that builds gradually throughout life and becomes a relationship that is simply a ‘part’ of us. At a personal level, faith is also nurtured when we reflect on the fact that we too are empowered to act with the same selfless love of Jesus and are capable of imitating his own works.

All this to engender the belief that not only is his bond with the Father indivisible, but that his bond with us is similarly indivisible, and that Jesus’ love for us, and service of us in the name of the Father, continues – we merely have to ask.

Fr. Denis Travers C.P. is the provincial of the Passionists of Holy Spirit Province.