There was a doubting Thomas living in Surry Hills, Sydney. He was a sworn enemy of the Christians in his community and determined to sabotage whatever he could of their activities that in anyway moved beyond the confines of the building in which they worshipped. Any initiative of theirs that involved public spaces or common property? He made it his mission to campaign against it.
This particular gentleman – and we’ll call him Thomas in honour of today’s Gospel, was in the process of bringing a lawsuit against the local Baptist church in his area when he discovered that due to serious illness, he was going to rapidly lose the use of his eyes. He was a taxi-driver by trade and this meant the loss of his livelihood.
One of his neighbours, a member of the very Baptist church on the other end of Thomas’ legal action, learned of his condition and began a huge fundraising campaign to raise the money for surgery that could salvage his sight. He was a little taken aback, of course, but refused the money and opted against the surgery. Love never takes offense, and neither did the Baptist community. They simply asked if there was anything they COULD do for him.
He responded that since he had lost his livelihood, he would appreciate a little help with his household expenses. Expecting occasional cheques of $10 or $20 here or there, you can imagine how stunned he was at regular cheques of $400 or more – substantial living assistance. This constituted a very real sacrifice on behalf of the community providing the money… this all took place during the worst of the global financial crisis; yet nothing was asked or expected in return. Thomas had never encountered such unconditional, sacrificing love and it began to change him. He began to learn what real love was. His atheistic objections to Christianity slowly weakened and disappeared.
In 2012 he became a Christian and joined the community that treated him like a brother, before he had even realized that he was!
What a beautiful example of love our non-Catholic brothers and sisters have set for us here in authentic love that pours itself out for another. When Our Lord showed His wounds to Thomas, He was showing the badges of authentic love that pours itself out. It was this love that enabled Thomas then to see.
Fr. J shared this little anecdote as one component of a multi-pronged homily today for Divine Mercy Sunday, Low Sunday in the Easter Octave. Fr. J, if you ever see this – thank you! You were ON FIRE today 🙂
And thank you for the reminder regarding the formula for the Act of Contrition during the sacrament of Confession. It was SO GOOD to see so many lining up for confession today!! God is so good, He is working wonders in the hearts of ordinary people all over our diocese – what a privilege to see that work in action today! We all need His Mercy – the love that pours itself out.