THOMAS, THE APOSTLE
The original name of Thomas, according to tradition, is Judas Thomas or Judas the Twin. Thomas is a Hebrew name and Didymus is a Greek name. The literal meaning of Thomas is twin originated from Te’oma in Aramaic and Didymos in Greek (Jn 11:16). Probably St. Thomas had a twin brother or sister. Both the names signify twin because Thomas was a twin in his family. Jews used to have a Jewish name and a gentile name. In Judea, they were known by their Hebrew name, and in Galilee and other non-Jewish areas, they were called by their gentile name. Saul and Paul of the Apostle Paul is an example. According to the Syriac tradition, Thomas is also known as Mar Thoma Sleeha, which means Lord Thomas the Apostle.
Thomas is believed to be of the same age as Jesus. He expressed his boldness to die for Jesus when the other disciples discouraged Jesus from going back to Judea to see the sick Lazarus saying: “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?” (Jn 11:8). Thomas encouraged them, saying: “Let us also go to die with him” (Jn 11:16). However, Thomas was not at the foot of the cross during the crucifixion of Jesus.
Thomas doubted the resurrection of Jesus when the other disciples said that they had seen the Risen Lord. So, Thomas has a nickname, “Doubting Thomas.” However, he expressed his excellent faith in the Lord by declaring to Jesus, “My Lord and My God” (Jn 20:28).
Thomas preached in Parthia, Persia, and India. While he was abroad, the Blessed Mother Mary died, and he reached at her home on the third day after her death. Upon his insistence, the tomb of Mary was opened, and her body was not found. Thomas saw Mary being taken up to heaven. Thomas was stabbed to death by a spear in Mylapore in India in 72 AD. This has a similarity to the death of Jesus because the heart of Jesus was pierced by a spear.
The boldness of Thomas to die for Jesus, his confession of faith in Jesus, and his sacrificial life for the spreading of the gospel show the virtues of Thomas. Let us also strengthen our faith in the Lord by experiencing the Lord during the Holy Eucharistic celebration.