Mind and Body
Behind locked doors Thomas says “unless I put my finger in the mark of the nails… I will not believe.” (Jn. 20:25) Thomas’s mind is locked. What will it take to open it to belief?
The shadows of doubt lengthen in the mind the more we feel threatened. To compensate we intensify our efforts at prediction and control. Thomas’ ultimatum to the believing community for proof of the risen Jesus indicates how insecure he feels. He must see the mark of the nails, put his finger in the mark of the nails and put his hand in Jesus’ side.
Thomas’ doubt reminds me of the book from the discernment section “I’d Say yes, God if I knew what you wanted.” But why not just say “yes God” without knowing? Why not commit to your vocation from the risen Jesus before you have proof what it is? Perhaps then you would experience what St. Augustine described as “Believe and you will understand.”
Our preference for prediction and control can keep us from hearing our calling and seeing our way clear of the locks in our thinking that keep us from the peace of the risen one. The saying that “all thinking is old” means that all thought is simply a parallel of previous thought. But the resurrection of Jesus is a totally new creation and our vocation is part of that new creation. It emerges from what is known but opens us to a totally new relationship with Christ and the Father. The Spirit extends this relatedness through us to others who share in resurrection faith.
Prediction and control are mental strategies meant to help us avoid crosses, nails and spears. Avoiding the wounds that follow is a priority of the mind. The mind longs for the truth but not knowing the truth leads to anxiety, fear and dread. When the mind ‘locks up’ in doubt real discernment and reasoning is impaired. What results is not thinking but obsessing about worst-case scenarios.
The medicine for our polluted and impaired minds is creating a new relationship with the body. The body can function like an anchor for our minds. By directing the mind’s awareness into the being of the body and its sensations we can begin to experience peace. There is a silence in our body that we don’t realize is always just “there.” By prayerfully reconnecting with our own body anxiety and fear begin to dissolve.
Perhaps Thomas’ absence from the body of the community on the first Sunday night explains his intense fear and doubt. The presence of others takes him out of his head, the place of overthinking and doubt, so he can hear others speak of the meaning of Jesus’ wounds in their lives. It is coming to terms with the meaning of Jesus’ wounds that will bring Thomas to his vocation to be a witness of the risen Jesus. And by coming to terms with Jesus’ wounds Thomas touches his own wounds, his own disappointment and hurt that his initial hopes for Jesus were not realized.
So, let us touch the wounds of Jesus by reaching through our own wounded sides and say yes to our vocation, a gift of the Divine Mercy of our Lord and our God.
By Mark Blom, OMI – Vocation Director OMI Lacombe Canada
Feel free to contact Fr. Mark for advice about discernment and vocation direction. He can meet with you by phone to conduct a short vocation assessment to help you find your way. Contact him at email@example.com to arrange for an appointment.