“He Himself- to see whom is to see the Father (cf. Jn 14:4) completed and perfected Revelation and confirmed it with divine guarantees. He did this by the total fact of His presence and self-manifestation- by words and works, signs and miracles, but above all by His death and glorious Resurrection from the dead, and finally by sending the Spirit of truth” (Vatican II, Dei Verbum, “Divine Revelation,” 4). Each year, the Gospel on the Second Sunday of Easter recounts the appearance of the Risen Jesus to His disciples on the evening of Easter. The Gospel tells us that “Thomas, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came” (Jn 20:24). While not the most important lesson of the account, St. Thomas Aquinas points out that the apostle’s absence illustrates the importance of community for Christians, “He had missed the comfort of seeing the Lord, the conferring of peace and the breath giving the Holy Spirit. This teaches us not to become separated from one’s companions, [as the Letter to the Hebrews asserts] ‘not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some’ (Heb 10:25)” (Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Gospel of John, 2547). When the disciples announce to Thomas that they have seen Jesus, Thomas insists that he will only believe that Jesus is alive if he can touch Jesus’ wounded hands and side (Jn 20:23). Thomas Aquinas asserts that Thomas’ absence provides an opportunity for the Risen Jesus to further manifest Himself. Aquinas recalls St. Gregory opinion that Thomas’ absence was not by accident but by God’s will (Commentary on John, 2547). Thomas explains: “It was in the plans of the divine pity that by feeling the wounds in the flesh of his Teacher, the doubting disciple should heal in us the wounds of disbelief” (Commentary on John, 2547). Thomas believes that Thomas’ absence and his doubts provided Jesus with an ultimate teachable moment: “Here we have the strongest signs of God’s profound pity. First, in this: that He loves the human race so much that He sometimes allows tribulations to afflict His elect, so that from these some good can accrue to the human race. This was the reason he allowed the apostles, the prophets and the holy martyrs to be afflicted” (Commentary on John, 2547). Paul affirmed: “If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted it is for your comfort which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer” (2 Cor 1:6). Aquinas recalls Gregory’s assertion that the disbelief of Thomas was of more benefit to our faith than the faith of the disciples who did believe (Commentary on John, 2547). Aquinas finds Thomas’s demands “unreasonable.” He insisted not only on seeing Jesus’ wounds but on touching them before he would believe, “although he would be seeing something greater, that is, the entire person risen and restored” (Commentary on John, 2550). Aquinas maintains that Thomas’ unreasonableness was “arranged by God for our benefit and progress.” Why? Because Thomas’ obstinacy made the reality of Jesus’ risen body more evident: “It is certain that Christ, who arose as a complete person, could have healed the marks of His wounds; but He kept them for our benefit” (Commentary on John, 2550). Jesus’ consideration for Thomas gives us, according to Aquinas, a “second sign of God’s pity, which is that He quickly comes to help His elect even though they fall. Indeed, the elect fall at times, just like the reprobate. But there is a difference: the reprobate are crushed, but the Lord quickly puts His hand under the elect so they can rise up” (Commentary on John, 2555). Psalm 37:23-24 states: “Those, whose way the Lord approves, may stumble, but they never fall, for the Lord holds their hand.” Psalm 94:18 declares: “When I say, ‘My foot is slipping,’ Your love, Lord, holds me up.’” Aquinas comments: “And so our Lord quickly puts His hand under the fallen Thomas so that when Thomas said, Unless I see … I will not believe, our Lord rescues him, saying, Put your finger here” (Commentary on John, 2555). Aquinas notes that Thomas had laid down his own conditions for believing: he must see and touch Jesus’ wounds. Jesus responded exactly: “So our Lord, helping him by the presence of His divinity, rescued him by meeting these conditions” (Commentary on John, 2556). Aquinas raises the question: “How then can there be wounds in the body of Christ?” Augustine affirms that the wounded side convicts unbelievers: “Look at the side you have pierced. It was opened for your sake, and you refused to enter” (On the Creed, 2, 8). Even the martyrs’ wounds will remain on their heavenly bodies, according to Augustine, not as disfigurements but as beauty: “These wounds in their body will not be a deformity, but a dignity. And although on their bodies, they will radiate not a bodily but a spiritual beauty” (City of God, 22:19). Could Jesus’ body be touched if it was incorruptible? Jesus declared: “Handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Lk 24:39). Thomas comments: “Our Lord showed that He was incorruptible and touchable to demonstrate that His body after His resurrection was of the same nature as before, and what had been corruptible had now put on incorruption (1 Cor 15:53). It was the same in nature, but with a different glory: for what had been heavy and lowly arose in glory and subtlety, as the effect of spiritual power” (Commentary on John, 2559). Thomas considers Jesus’ wounds were an affirmation that His risen body was the same body that hung on the Cross: “Our Lord continued, saying, see My hands, which hung on the cross, and put out your hand, and place it in My side, which was pierced by the spear, and realize that I am the same person who had hung upon the cross” (Commentary on John, 2560). Thomas proposes a “mystical interpretation”: “A finger signifies knowledge, and a hand signifies our works. Thus when Thomas is told to put his finger and hand into the wounds of Christ, we are being told to use our knowledge and works for the service of Christ” (Commentary on John, 2560). Aquinas affirms: “Thomas quickly became a good theologian by professing a true faith. He professed the humanity of Christ when he said, ‘My Lord,’ for he had called Christ this before the passion: ‘You call me Teacher and Lord’ (Jn 13:13). And he professed the divinity of Christ when he said, and ‘my God.’ Before this, the only one who had called Christ God was Peter: ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’ (Mt 16:16) (Commentary on John, 2562). The First Letter of John announces: “This is the true God and eternal life” (1 Jn 5:20). Jesus reproaches Thomas for being slow to believe until he has seen Jesus, while he praises those who believe without seeing (Jn 20:29). Aquinas proclaims that Thomas actually believed even more than he saw: “Thomas saw one thing and believed another. He saw the man and the wounds, and from these he believed in the divinity of the one who had arisen” (Commentary on John, 2564). Denis Vincent Wiseman, O.P. The translation of St. Thomas’ Commentary on John by Fabian R. Larcher, O.P. may be found on the website: http://dhspriory.org/thomas/ .