Second Sunday of Easter (A)
April 27, 2014
Times there are when people want and seek our honest opinions about something. More often than not, given our Filipino culture that almost makes it mandatory for us to please the other party, we think of answers that are less than sincere, less than honest. When some person of stature asks for our opinions, we end up giving him or her the answer that we think he or she expects to hear.
Thomas has received some kind of a bad rap in the past for being sort of skeptical. “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Indeed, on account of this, he has come down in history as the “doubting Thomas.”
He was a skeptic alright. He doubted. He did not give outright credence to what he heard. But Thomas, beyond being skeptical, was really honest about what he thought. And he told it like it is, without hemming and hawing; without mincing words; without beating about the bush.
We have often heard it said that our times, before anything else, are characterized with the massive crisis of truth. Truth is sacrificed on the altar of political gain. Truth is made subservient to economic considerations. Even newspapers who go by such seemingly admirable lines as “balanced news; fearless views” are anything but balanced, and are actually fearful of losing their patrons, big or small; powerful or lowly. Who says “envelopmental journalism” has been banished with the loss of the much hated dictatorship of a generation ago?
At least one news outfit comes across as patently anti-clerical. Since its inception in the digital world, that news outfit has ceaselessly been coming out with reportorial articles that seem to report as fact the sexually liberated mores now operative in Philippine culture. They always say they only report what is happening in the world. In actuality, they can also create the very reality they are ostensibly reporting “objectively,” thus giving the impression that the prevalent culture is indeed according to their reports and write-ups.
Today, I would like to look at Thomas as an example of honesty. Truth, we are told, is the perfect match between what is in the mind and what is outside the mind – the world of objective reality. Whilst objective reality cannot be bended and manipulated, the mind can actually be twisted, for many reasons. Thomas did not twist his mind nor bend the truth. He just said: “Unless I see … I will not believe.”
Our times are sorely tested in this regard. The pork barrel scam has reached a point in which there seems to be no one credible, least of all, mainstream media that seems subservient to whoever is in power. Whistleblowers’ accounts are either blown out of proportions or downright ignored, if not made to go the way of the proverbial forgetfulness of the Filipino people.
Honest Thomas reminds us of the need to be truthful, to be honest with our thoughts and feelings – to ourselves, first of all, and ultimately, to others. But Honest Thomas tells us more, which the gospel passage today shows us. It shows that honesty is not inimical to openness; that it is does not preclude being open to further truth, to other truths, to the ongoing search for truth. It also shows us that, in the presence of glaring and undeniable truth, there is no harm in changing one’s opinion and submitting oneself to the truth, totally and without reservation.
This, Honest Thomas did wonderfully well. When Jesus came a week later and told him: “Put your finger here and see my hands … do not be unbelieving, but believe,” Thomas blurted out: “My Lord and my God!”
I don’t know how all this convoluted and complicated pork barrel scam will end. Neither do I know how you all react and relate to this issue. I really do not care, in the end. What I do care about is not about the flimsy and fleeting truth about us and our political affiliations. What I do care about is our openness before the truth of God, who revealed Himself in Christ, His Son, who suffered, died, was buried and rose from the dead. What I do care about is how you and I relate to Him, who is the resurrection and the life.
Is He still your Lord and your God?