I always thought it might be fun to have a twin.  I have two cousins who are twins, and I also have a godson who is a twin.  I’ve had college friends who are twins, and, come to think of it, when I was six years old, my tee-ball team was named the Twins.  So I guess I got my wish after all.  But the mischievous side of me used to think it would be fun to be a twin so that I could play pranks on my parents.  I imagined switching places with my twin brother just to mess with my parents and see how long we could keep up the charade.

I want to focus in on the figure of Thomas in this gospel.  It’s interesting here to note that Thomas is called didymus, a word that means “twin” and appears only three times in John’s gospel, always in reference to Thomas.  And each time Thomas is there, Jesus performs a great sign.  This raising of Lazarus is the first of the three signs.  The other two are the appearance in the upper room after the Resurrection, and the miraculous draft of fish in Galilee after the Resurrection.

Now in this gospel, Thomas isn’t the center of attention, but he can be sort of an interpretive key for us.  Thomas seems to have a bad attitude, kind of cynical.  They have narrowly escaped the Jews, who were trying to kill them, when Jesus says, let’s go back.  It’s like that line in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, when Indy’s father says to Indy that they need to go back to Berlin to get his journal.  “Go back??  Into the lion’s den?”  says Indiana Jones.  I have to think that this is how Thomas felt, and that’s why he says, “Let’s go back and die with him.”

Back to this word, didymus.  St. Thomas may have, in fact, been a twin.  That’s certainly a possibility.  But we never hear about his twin brother, and it never seems to have any sort of impact on the story we’re hearing.  Why, then, does John include this detail over and over in his gospel?  Who’s this twin, and why is he important?  In order to answer that question, we have to look at John’s gospel as a whole.

Throughout John’s gospel, Jesus performs certain signs.  There was the Wedding at Cana.  There was the reading of the Samaritan woman’s soul at the well.  There was the curing of the man born blind. Finally, there is the raising of Lazarus, and there’s many more in between.  John presents us with all these signs.

Another hallmark of John’s gospel is Jesus’ statements.  Over and over, Jesus utters the words, “I am…”

  • The bread of life
  • The light of the world
  • The gate
  • The good shepherd
  • The resurrection and the life
  • The way, the truth and the life
  • The true vine

What does it all mean?  Why all the buildup?  This is the key, which comes near the end of John’s gospel:

“Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book.  But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of God, and that thru this belief you may have life in his name.”[1]

The signs are given in order that we may believe that Jesus is who he says he is.

Now back to Thomas, the twin.  The cynical one.  The skeptic.  He isn’t thrilled to be there.  But he witnesses something amazing—the resurrection of Lazarus.  And he hears the words of Jesus: “I am the resurrection and the life.”  And yet, despite all of this, it is Thomas who doubts that Jesus has been raised from the dead on Easter Sunday.  It is Thomas who has seen, and yet still does not believe.  And remember, Thomas has a twin.  Who is this twin?  That twin is you.  That twin is me.  When we doubt that any of this is real.  When we doubt that Jesus really was the Son of God, who became a man. When we doubt that he can really forgive us of our sins.  When we doubt that we too, will rise again to new life.  And when we cry out, like Martha and Mary, “Lord, where were you?  If you had been here, this wouldn’t have happened.”  We are that twin.

Brothers and sisters, what signs has the Lord worked in your life?  What love and grace has he shown to you, personally?  How has the Lord blessed you?  There is grace all around us, grace and mercy.  Do we even perceive it?  Is it proof enough that Jesus is alive?  That we are alive in him?

We all have moments when we are Thomas’ twin.  Even Martha, who makes her great confession of faith: “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the one who is coming into the world.”  Just a few minutes later, even Martha has her moment of doubt.  “Lord, we can’t roll away the stone—there will be a stench.  Are you sure, Lord? Are you really the resurrection and the life?”  But take courage.  Because even Thomas, in his greatest moment of doubt, gets to see the risen Lord.  And then he falls down on his knees and says, “My Lord and my God!”

If Jesus really is Lord, and we belong to him, then we too will rise from the dead.  As St. Paul says, we are members of the body of Christ, and if the head has been raised, then so, too, will the body be raised.  Not just raised, glorified.  Listen to the Eucharistic prayer from the Mass for the dead:

Remember your servant N.
whom you have called (today)
from this world to yourself.
Grant that he (she) who was united with your Son in a death like his,
may also be one with him in his Resurrection,
when from the earth
he will raise up in the flesh those who have died,
and transform our lowly body 
after the pattern of his own glorious body. [2]

You and I, brethren, will rise from the dead.  We will share in that future glory.  This is the joy and the hope of the resurrection.  This is the joy and hope we anticipate this Easter.

May we have the courage in this Mass to gaze upon the Eucharist and say, “My Lord and my God!”


[1] John 20:30-31

[2] Eucharistic Prayer III