Today’s meditation for the fourth week of Lent comes from Tomáš Halík’s Touch the Wounds. This excerpt explores what it means to have a strong faith, and encourages us to encounter Christ in both the traditional sense of the church, and the physical, experiential sense of caring for the wounds of others.
Being “a believer” does not entail throwing off the burden of agonizing questions forever. Sometimes it means taking upon oneself the cross of doubts and following him faithfully. The strength of faith consists, not of “unshakable conviction,” but of the capacity to cope with doubts and ambiguities, to bear the burden of mystery, while maintaining faithfulness and hope.
Yes, maybe that was Thomas’s actual mission: the faith that came into being when he touched Jesus’s side did not become an object to be “possessed.” Even now, faith does not cease to be a journey for him. He must continue to bear the burden of his doubts and temptations to skepticism. The certainty of faith comes only when he touches God while touching wounds in the world—only there does he encounter him. There he experiences once more his encounter with the Crucified Christ. Such is his mission.
And that is how, for many who proceed through life in the twilight of doubts, they hack their way through to a totally specific self-revelation of God in our world, to an unexpected “God experience.” Those who have seen the Lord open the gates to those who have not: they are able to encounter Jesus over and over again—in the world’s wounds. Those who are unable to find Christ in the traditional surroundings offered by the church, in its preaching, services, and catechisms, still have that opportunity always available to them: to encounter him where people suffer. After all, didn’t Jesus say: “Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me?” And we can encounter him even in the depths of our own pain.