thomas, doubter or beloved (or both)

The Doubt of St. Thomas by He Qi ©2001

Evidently the Second Sunday of Easter is devoted to Thomas, regardless of the year. Doubting Thomas to whom Jesus says, “‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe'” (John 20:29 NRSV). It’s kind of an indictment, really. Poor Thomas.

But this question is raised in various places online including Betsy’s comment in the RevGals Tuesdays Lectionary Leanings: What if Thomas had been the Beloved Disciple mentioned in John? (The Beloved reclines against Jesus at the Last Supper (John 13:23-25), stands at the cross and watches Jesus die and takes Mary, the Mother of Jesus, into his own home (John 19).) That’s one of those issues I never learned to question. The gospel is John; the narrator is the Beloved; therefore the beloved is John. It still comes as a surprise that such things are disputed, that we don’t know for sure. They were taught as fact. So I haven’t done much investigation, and I’m not suggesting I actually buy into the theory that Thomas was the beloved, but I did play with the idea a bit.

Call it speculative fiction if you will, but I ask, what if?

What if Thomas were the Beloved
Would it change the way we see him?
The way history remembers him?
Not the Doubter, but the Beloved
The one whom Jesus loved

What if
He had not seen the Baptism
The Transfiguration
Those liminal moments
But had seen only Jesus, the man
fully human
And had loved him
Followed him
And been loved by him
The one whom Jesus loved

And what if
He stood at the cross
And watched him die
And touched his lifeless body
(Becoming, thereby unclean)
And took his mother home
To care for her
And comfort her
In their shared grief

And what if
He missed the gathering
Because he was unclean
Because he was there when the human died

Why would he believe?
Heroes die every day
Pedestals topple
Statues crumble
The more he loved the man
The less he understood
The greater the love
The harder the pain
The stronger the doubt

And then
The moment
Those hands
That beloved face
“My Lord and my God”
Fully human
Fully divine

What if
That’s what Thomas learned

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2 Responses to thomas, doubter or beloved (or both)

  1. Krista says:

    thanks for this piece of poetry – will use it in my service tomorrow and reference your site. Keep blogging your talent! Krista Anderson from Nova Scotia Canada

  2. Darrell A. Harris says:

    Thanks for this. I’d never seen He Qi’s Doubt of Thomas before, nor had I ever heard any speculation about him being the Beloved. But it has a ring of truth.

    The risen Lord seemed most concerned about Peter and Thomas, the deny-er and the doubt-er apon his resurrection. It was to those two he seemed to reach out most personally and intimately . . . along with Mary Magdalene, of course~

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