July 3: The feast of *Saint Thomas the Apostle*
Today, July 3, we celebrate the feast day of *Saint Thomas the Apostle * (died 72), original disciple of Jesus, and holy man of change and courage.
St. Thomas was one of the fishermen on the Lake of Galilee whom our Lord called to be His Apostles. By nature slow to believe, too apt to see difficulties, and to look at the dark side of things, he had a most sympathetic, loving, and courageous heart.
Jesus uses the disbelief of Thomas to teach the disciples a lesson of faith. Thomas says: “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25); but eight days later he made his act of faith, drawing down the rebuke of Jesus: “Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed.” (John 20:29).
Similarly, at the Last Supper, Thomas raises an important question, stating “Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). Thomas’ question reveals the greatest truth of salvation, when Jesus replies: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
Saint Thomas may also be remembered for his courage: When Jesus announced His intention of returning to Judea to visit Lazarus, “Thomas” who is called Didymus [the twin], said to his fellow disciples: “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16).
Saint Thomas turned from his doubt, and embraced the truth of the Resurrection and the truth of Jesus Christ. Following Pentecost, when the disciples spread throughout the region, Thomas set off on a difficult course of missionary work, his travels taking him to the Parthians, Medes, and Persians.
He is believed to be the only original disciple to preach outside the boundaries of the Roman Empire, and also the missionary who travelled the farthest during that time. Holy legend tells us that Thomas ultimately reached India, carrying the Gospel of Jesus to the Malabar coast, which today boasts a large native population who call themselves “Christians of Saint Thomas.”
He was eventually martyred by spears while praying on a hill in Mylapore in approximately 72 A.D. His body was buried near the site of his death. The relics of Saint Thomas were subsequently translated to Mesopotamia, and then again to Ortona, Italy in the thirteenth century (where they remain today).
*St. Thomas, the Apostle, pray for us*.