The Mission Imperative - Thomas

‘Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.’
(John 20:29)
Five years residence in Chennai gave us frequent reminders of the life of one of Christ's disciples - Thomas. I would take great pleasure in showing visitors some of the sites of the Thomas Pilgrimage: the area where he is said to have lived; the cave where he hid when being hunted down for converting a Brahmin; St Thomas's Mount where he was assassinated.
He had brought the gospel to the Indian subcontinent, still TLM's widest field of service. It was to a people where visual images dominate religious worship, so not surprising that 2000 years later they still appreciate the visual. I loved taking visitors to another location on the pilgrimage: Little Mount. Here there are larger than life-size displays of the 14 Stations of the Cross, ending up at a model of Thomas kneeling at the feet of Jesus, with the words: 'My Lord and my God!'
Fifteen hundred years later questions had arisen in India about the humanity and divinity of Christ. The pope sent Francis Xavier, co-founder of the Jesuits, to emphasise to the people that Jesus was both. Some time later he arrived in Chennai, spending several months in the Cathedral of St Thomas, much of the time in the Chapel of Our Lady of Mylapore. There he pondered and planned his mission to China and the Far East. Christendom owes much to the Catholic orders for its expansion worldwide in the pre-reformation era.
I showed visitors the Mylapore Chapel, especially explaining how Francis Xavier used it as a place of quietness and meditation in planning missionary strategy. I was even happier to point out the small stained glass window behind the altar, above which is the effigy of Christ, risen, ascending, crowned and glorified. The wording on the stained glass: 'Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.'
I'm tempted to suggest those words could be slightly amended for TLM and other health workers to something like this: 'Blessed are those who have not been healed and still have believed.'

October 2022