Sunday, March 30, 2008

Doubting Thomas Sunday (Low Sunday)

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. The Incredulity of St Thomas. 1601-2. Sans Souci, Potsdam.

Caravaggio, limned this gospel scene of the Apostle Thomas, who in order to believe in Jesus’s Resurrection, had said,“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.”*

Jesus came, eight days later, and said, “Put in thy finger hither, and see my hands; and bring hither thy hand, and put it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing.”†

Thomas, now had to believe, his incredulity was completely demolished. He made witness and confession, and was the first to say, “My Lord, and my God.”‡

Jesus saith to him: Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed.
Many other signs also did Jesus in the sight of his disciples, which are not written in this book.§

This is beautiful baroque. This scene was done centuries before by Duccio and in countless icons. Art on the walls was, as Gregory the Great (†. 604)||, to teach people who could not read about the faith. In the Catholic Reformation, the almighty brush spread truth with pigment. The protestant heresiarchs (and others to this day) instilled doubt of what had been accepted for more than a millennia and a half. The direct confrontation with Christ ended doubt. We can all say with Thomas, “My Lord, and my God”, even though we did not see as eye witnesses and read Scripture specifically detailed.

The tenebræists loved this scene. In the years soon after, masterpieces were done of Christ and his doubting Thomas by: Rubens 1613-5 (Antwerp), Honthorst c.1620 (Madrid), ter Brugghen c.1621-3 (Amsterdam), Guercino c.1621(London, Vatican) and Rembrandt 1634 (Moscow).

from the Easter carol, O filii and filiae (Ye Sons and Daughters) v. 7-10, by Jean Tisserand, (†.1494)

Ut intellexit Didymus
quia surrexerat Iesus,
remansit fere dubius, alleluia.

Vide Thoma, vide latus,
vide pedes, vide manus,
noli esse incredulus, alleluia.

Quando Thomas vidit Christum,
pedes, manus, latus suum,
dixit: Tu es Deus meus, alleluia.

Beati qui non viderunt
et firmiter crediderunt;
vitam aeternam habebunt, alleluia.

But Thomas, when of this he heard, was doubtful of his brethren's word; wherefore again there comes the Lord, alleluia.
"Thomas, behold my side," saith He; "My hands, My feet, My body see, and doubt not, but believe in Me."
When Thomas saw that wounded side, the truth no longer he denied; "Thou art my Lord and God!" he cried
, alleluia.
Oh, blest are they who have not seen their Lord and yet believe in Him! eternal life awaiteth them
, alleluia.
* from John xx. 25
† from John xx. 27
‡ from John xx. 28

§ John xx. 29-30
|| Epistle 105 of Book 9
post scriptum: from the Introit at Mass — "Quasi modo geniti infantes, rationabile, sine dolo lac concupiscite", — the day is also known as Quasimodo Sunday.
1 Peter ii. 2
sicut modo geniti infantes rationale sine dolo lac concupiscite ut in eo crescatis in salutem
As newborn babes, desire the rational milk without guile, that thereby you may grow unto salvation:

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